Estimations of the impact of human trafficking

The following is a list of available statistics estimating the scope of Human Trafficking around the world and within the United States. Actual statistics are often unavailable, and some may be contradictory due to the covert nature of the crime, the invisibility of victims and high levels of under-reporting.

Further obstacles include inconsistent definitions, reluctance to share data, and a lack of funding for and standardization of data collection. Particularly lacking are estimates on the number of American citizens trafficked within the U.S.

Human Trafficking Worldwide:

  • Human trafficking is a $32,000,000,000 per year industry and is tied with drugs for the most profitable criminal endeavor, having past illegal weapons.1
  • 27,000,000 people in modern-day slavery around the world.2
  • 800,000 people trafficked across international borders every year.3 50% are children4, 80% are women and girls5.
  • 1,000,000 children exploited by the international sex trade.6
  • 70% of female victims are trafficked into the sex trade. 30% into forced labor.7
  • 161 countries have been identified as being affected by human trafficking, including 127 countries of origin, 98 transit countries, 137 destination countries.8

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in the United States:

  • There are 100,000 to 300,000 underage girls being sold for sex in America.9
  • The average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14 years old.10
  • 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States each year.11
  • 1 out of every 3 teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of running away from home.12
  • Minor victims were sold an average of 10-15 times a day, 6 days a week.12
  • 1 out of 5 pornographic images is of a child.12
  • The sale of child pornography has become a $3 billion dollar industry.12
  • Over 100,000 websites offer child pornography.12
  • 55 percent of internet child pornography comes from the United States.12

Additional Reading:


  1. ILO, A global alliance against forced labor: 2005
  2. Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves
  3. U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007
  4. U.S. Department of Justice, Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons in Fiscal Year 2003: 2004.
  5. U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report: 2007
  6. U.S. Department of State, The Facts About Child Sex Tourism: 2005
  7. U.S. Department of Justice, Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons: 2004.
  8. UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns: April 2006.
  9. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  10. Estes, Richard J. and Neil A. Weiner. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work: 2001.
  11. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000
  12. Washington State Office of the Attorney General