Human Trafficking Statistics and Facts You Need to Know in 2024

Human Trafficking statistics

Human trafficking is when people are taken or tricked into doing things against their will, often through force or lies, to exploit them for profit. Traffickers might use violence or make false promises about jobs and education to lure their victims.

Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked around the world, including in the United States. It can happen in any community, affecting people of all ages, races, genders, and nationalities.

This grave crime not only violates human rights but also threatens national security, weakens the rule of law, and damages the well-being of individuals and communities. Human trafficking is a crime of exploitation.

The statistics on human trafficking show a heartbreaking reality for many people. These stats highlight the severity of the issue and the urgent need for action.

Human Trafficking Statistics

sex trafficking

Human trafficking victims suffer because governments are slow to act. Traffickers often operate without fear of punishment, forced labor supports global supply chains, and predators exploit children for commercial sex. Governments have not implemented strong enough action plans, laws, or treaties to effectively stop these crimes.

Finding accurate statistics on human trafficking is very difficult. This crime is often hidden, making it hard to see and count the victims. There are many challenges, such as identifying who the victims are, ensuring the data is correct and complete, and sharing information among different organizations.

Because of these issues, these statistics might not show the true extent of this terrible problem. Despite the numbers, we must remember the real, human stories behind them – each stat represents someone’s pain and suffering, making the urgency to address this crisis all the more pressing.

  • In 2021, 28 million people were trapped in forced labor on any given day. Total illegal profits from forced labor are estimated to be $236 billion each year, with about $10,000 in profit made from each victim. (1)
  • The global human trafficking industry is valued at over $150 billion. Traffickers take advantage of people’s weaknesses, like poverty, trauma, racism, sexism, and other problems caused by unfair systems. They prey on those who are already struggling, making their lives even harder. (12)
  • In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received a total of 51,073 substantive phone calls, texts, Webchats, emails, or online tip reports nationwide. In 2021, the United States reported 10,360 unique cases of potential human trafficking to the Hotline. (2)
Human Trafficking
  • In the fiscal year 2021, U.S. attorneys received referrals for human trafficking offenses involving 2,027 individuals. The number of people prosecuted for human trafficking more than doubled between 2011 and 2021, increasing from 729 to 1,672. (3)

  • In fiscal year 2021, out of 1,197 people charged with human trafficking offenses:

    – 92% were male

    – 60% were white

    – 20% were black

    – 16% were Hispanic

    – 95% were U.S. citizens

    – 68% had no prior convictions (3)

  • Almost 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+, whereas only 7% of the general population does. These young people often become homeless due to issues related to their identities. Lacking safe housing and social support, they are at a significantly higher risk of being trafficked and exploited. (4)

  • Public sources seldom provide information about gender identity or sexual orientation. In 2023, there was one reported victim who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ). Due to the limited publicly available information on the sexual orientation or gender identity of victims, the actual number of LGBTQ individuals affected by human trafficking is unclear and likely underrepresented. (5)

  • Hope for Justice estimates that modern slavery and human trafficking generate over US$245 billion in illicit profits every year. Like other illegal businesses, much of this profit goes unreported and unexamined. These profits come mainly from forced labor in the private sector and sexual exploitation. This estimate does not include profits from state-imposed forced labor or forced marriages. (6)

How Many People are Trafficked Each Year

How Many people are trafficked each year

Modern slavery is a broad term that includes various human rights abuses, such as human trafficking. Human traffickers and slave masters use any method they can to trick, force, and control individuals, leading them into lives of abuse, servitude, and inhumane treatment.

Women are often exploited for sex, while men are usually forced into labor. Victims often don’t seek help due to language barriers, fear of their traffickers, or distrust of law enforcement.

Victims were often trafficked by someone they knew. In cases of both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, when the relationship was disclosed, the trafficker was almost always a familiar person. The top relationships involved were employers, family members, or romantic partners.

  • In 2023, 670 new human trafficking cases involved victims. Among these new victims:

    – 29% (196) were minors.

    – 25% (169) were adults.

    – 46% (305) had unknown ages.

    Public information about victims in these cases is limited, so the ages of many victims cannot always be determined. (5)

  • In 2023, the gender of 275 out of 670 victims in human trafficking cases was identified:

    – 37% (251) were female

    – 4% (24) were male

    – 59% (395) had an unknown gender (5)

  • In 2023, 202 human trafficking cases were filed in the federal court system. This number was a <1% decrease from 2022’s 203 cases. Human trafficking prosecutions often come from long investigations that can take several months or even years to complete. (5)

top 10 human trafficking states
  • In 2023, 98% (197 out of 202) of the criminal cases filed included at least one charge for sex trafficking. The remaining 2% (5 cases) involved at least one charge of forced labor. While some cases can involve both sex trafficking and forced labor, there were 2 cases identified in 2023 that included both types of charges. (5)

  • Traffickers often exploit multiple victims at once, sometimes for long periods. In 2023, each single defendant charged with trafficking exploited an average of 3.3 victims per case. (5)

  • The number of detected victims of trafficking for forced labor per 100,000 population in 2020 was 0.37. In 2020, for the first time, the number of detected victims of human trafficking decreased globally.

    This change might be due to three factors, especially in low- and middle-income countries during the pandemic: reduced ability of institutions to detect victims, fewer opportunities for traffickers to operate due to COVID-19 restrictions, and traffickers moving their activities to more hidden and less detectable locations. (7)

  • The top vulnerabilities for adult victims of human trafficking included:

    – Drug or substance abuse (33 cases)

    – No legal status (20 cases)

    – Poverty or financial insecurity (17 cases)

    – Being homeless (12 cases)

    – Limited ability to speak or understand English (11 cases)

    – Prior trafficking victim (9 cases)

    – LGBTQ status (1 case)

    – Having been in the foster care system (1 case) (5)

sex trafficking in the us

Child Trafficking Statistics

Child Trafficking Statistics

The International Labor Organization reports that, on any given day, 27.6 million people are trapped in forced labor. Of these, 17.3 million are exploited in the private sector, 6.3 million are forced into commercial sexual exploitation, and 3.9 million are in forced labor imposed by governments.

More research is desperately needed, but the reality of the problem is undeniable and immense. In 2022, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that 3.3 million children are being exploited through sex trafficking and labor trafficking at any given moment.

In the US, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act states that children under 18 involved in commercial sex acts are considered victims of trafficking, regardless of whether they were forced, deceived, or coerced. However, many states still lack human trafficking offense laws to protect sexually exploited children from being prosecuted for prostitution.

 

  • 1 in 3 children are first exposed to social media by the age of 5 or younger. Early exposure to social media is linked to higher risks of sexual exploitation online. Children who start using social media at a younger age, especially around 11-12 years old—the typical age most American children get their first smartphone—are more likely to experience sexual harm online. (8)

  • 1 in 3 children are expected to encounter an unwelcome sexual experience online before turning 18r. Reports of child sexual abuse images online have tripled in just five years, rising from 10.2 million in 2017 to 29.3 million in 2021. (8)

    Despite these increasing risks, 97% of children use social media and the internet daily, with 1 in 5 using it “almost constantly.”

  • 43% of children exposed to inappropriate sexual content online were under the age of 13. One in five children who have seen sexual content online were 9 years old or younger when their parents took the survey. (8)

  • In 2023, CyberTipline received over 35.9 million reports of suspected CSAM (child sexual abuse material) incidents. Reports of online enticement have skyrocketed by more than 300%, rising from 44,155 in 2021 to 186,819 in 2023. Recent reports of financial sextortion reveal that teen boys are most often the targets. (9)

  • For minor victims, the most common vulnerabilities were:

    – Running away from home (17 cases)

    – Being in the foster care system (7 cases)

    – Having been trafficked in the past (6 cases)

    – Poverty or financial insecurity (5 cases)

    – Being homeless (4 cases)

    – Having no legal status (3 cases)

    – Limited ability to speak or understand English (3 cases)

    – Past involvement with the juvenile justice system (2 cases)

    – A history of child abuse or neglect (2 cases) (5)

  • Child sex trafficking has been reported in all 50 states. 91.7% of CyberTipline reports in 2023 involved the upload of child sexual abuse material by users outside of the U.S. 4.5% of CyberTipline reports were U.S.-based, and 3.8% had an unknown origin. (9)

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is not something you can easily spot from across a room. It’s not a sudden crime like a kidnapping or carjacking that a bystander can witness and report. Many victims don’t even realize they are being exploited because traffickers skillfully groom them to believe they chose to participate in commercial sex.

By understanding how sex trafficking really works, families and communities can better identify vulnerable individuals before they become victims and offer the support survivors need to break free, heal, and move forward with their lives.

  • In the U.S., sex trafficking stands as the predominant form of trafficking. This is partly because law enforcement often prioritizes investigating this type of exploitation in certain regions. (12)

  • Over the past 5 years, 97% of new criminal cases were for sex trafficking, and 3% for forced labor. This indicates that the vast majority of new trafficking cases are related to sex trafficking, with only a small percentage involving forced labor.

    – 197 cases (98%) involve sex trafficking.

    – 5 cases (2%) involve forced labor. (5)

  • This study estimates the age range of sex trafficking victims in 2023:

    – The oldest victim was 21 years old.

    – The youngest victim was just 4 years old.

    – On average, the age of the victims was 15 years old. (5)

Sex Trafficking Victim Ages 2024

An estimated 6.3 million people are in situations of forced commercial sexual exploitation at any given time. Gender plays a crucial role in trafficking: nearly four out of every five victims are girls or women. (10)

Human Trafficking in the COVID and Post-COVID Era

national human trafficking hotline

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how adaptable human trafficking is. The pandemic didn’t stop or slow down trafficking, nor did it significantly alter who was targeted or how it occurred. Data from this period shows that victims were trafficked in the same places and in the same ways as before the pandemic.

Victims were trafficked in various industries, including escort services, pornography, illicit massage businesses, domestic work, and agriculture. While these trends have remained largely consistent with pre-COVID data, it’s important to note that since 2018, there has been a steady increase in cases of sex trafficking in pornography.

  • Despite the global crisis, trafficking continued almost unchanged. Human trafficking patterns and vulnerabilities remained unaffected from January 2020 to August 2022 despite the pandemic. (11)

  • The global slowdown in trafficking convictions, which has been decreasing since 2017, worsened during the pandemic. In 2020, convictions dropped by an alarming 27% compared to the previous year. These findings suggest that our institutions often fail to detect and protect trafficking victims and provide them with justice. (7)

Human Trafficking Statistics by State

Human Trafficking Statistics by State

A common misconception about human trafficking is that it doesn’t happen in the United States. This is not true. The United States is actually ranked as one of the worst countries for human trafficking. 

Traffickers rarely kidnap victims off the street. Instead, they use psychological manipulation and false promises to lure victims into exploitative situations.

Victims often don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late. This manipulation leads to a loss of control and often puts victims in debt to the trafficker, making it very difficult to escape.

Vulnerability to trafficking is often driven by factors such as discrimination against migrants and minority groups, irregular migration, organized crime along the US-Mexico border, poverty, and state-imposed forced labor within the prison system.

State # of Signals % of Signals
Alabama 285 1%
Alaska 81 0%
Arizona 651 1%
Arkansas 270 1%
California 5,257 10%
Colorado 602 1%
Connecticut 170 0%
Delaware 93 0%
District of Columbia 175 0%
Florida 2,894 6%
Georgia 1,073 2%
Guam 3 0%
Hawaii 90 0%
Idaho 109 0%
Illinois 929 2%
Indiana 467 1%
Iowa 299 1%
Kansas 274 1%
Kentucky 353 1%
Louisiana 375 1%
Maine 175 0%
Maryland 751 1.50%
Massachusetts 339 1%
Michigan 1,186 2%
Minnesota 335 1%
Mississippi 543 1%
Missouri 1,103 2%
Montana 133 0%
Nebraska 240 0.50%
Nevada 571 1%
New Hampshire 68 0%
New Jersey 567 1%
New Mexico 364 1%
New York 1,662 3%
North Carolina 922 2%
North Dakota 100 0%
Northern Mariana Islands 16 0%
Ohio 1,161 2%
Oklahoma 438 1%
Oregon 485 1%
Pennsylvania 1,080 2%
Puerto Rico 34 0%
Rhode Island 38 0%
South Carolina 488 1%
South Dakota 100 0%
Tennessee 525 1%
Texas 3,534 7%
U.S. Virgin Islands 4 0%
Utah 319 1%
Vermont 32 0%
Virginia 583 1%
Washington 955 2%
West Virginia 112 0%
Wisconsin 390 1%
Wyoming 68 0%
Not Specified 16,815 33%
International Location 387 1%

Final Thought

Human trafficking statistics paint a grim picture, revealing the hidden nature of this heinous crime. The intersection of domestic violence, forced labour, and domestic servitude shows how deeply embedded trafficking is within our communities. Domestic workers and homeless youth are particularly vulnerable, often trapped by force, fraud, and coercion.

The involvement of armed groups, forced marriage, and child soldiers further underscores the severity of trafficking globally. The private economy sometimes masks these crimes, making it challenging to combat trafficking effectively. Victims often fear seeking help due to their immigration status or language barriers, highlighting the need for vital resources and support.

To make a significant impact, international organizations and local communities must collaborate, leveraging every available tool to detect and address trafficking situations. By understanding these statistics, we can better support those trapped in these dire circumstances and work towards eradicating this pervasive issue.

Only through collective action and unwavering commitment can we hope to dismantle the systems that perpetuate human trafficking.

Reference

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