Human Trafficking Statistics in the US

Some things go on in our world that we would like to shy away from because they are too ugly to contemplate and human trafficking is one of them. Despite the average person's ignorance of the subject, human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States, and thankfully awareness of the issue is growing along with ample measures to resolve it. All fifty states and all but one territory in the U.S. have enacted anti-trafficking laws.

What is Human Trafficking?

As defined by The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), human trafficking for sex or labor is defined as: "sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person inducedto perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age" or "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery."

Although exact figures are unknown, it is estimated between 600,000 - 800,000 men, women and children become victims of human trafficking a year in the U.S.
50% of those victims are under the age of 18.
Worldwide it is estimated about 20.9 million victims exist and 1.5 million in American.
A shocking 4.5 million of the victims are sexually exploited.
The problem is growing but difficult to accurately pinpoint. As of 2013, only 44,758 victims of human trafficking were identified in the U.S.
Unfortunately, minors who are victims of commercial sex crimes within trafficking constraints are often misidentified as offenders rather than victims.
Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar business and in recent years has surpassed that of illegal arms trading and will eventually surpass the sale of illicit drugs as well.


Joint task forces involving the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Immigration, and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) are tasked with investigations into human trafficking.

In 2013 alone they investigated 1,205 cases, an increase from 894 the year before.
The United States FBI agency reported 220 open cases they were investigating regarding adult and foreign child victims.
The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Services Human Trafficking Unit also checked in with another 159 worldwide cases of their own.


Investigations can be a slow process and prosecutions even harder. For 2013, the U.S. government convicted 5,766 individuals on human trafficking from the pool of 9,460 open cases worldwide.
Another 1,182 prosecutions netted another 446 convictions that involved both adults and minor victims.
The U.S. Justice Department prosecuted 161 human trafficking cases involving 253 defendants; 222 that were charged with sex trafficking and 31 were charged with forced labor trafficking. There was some crossover in these cases where some were guilty of both offenses.

Child Victims

Sadly, children comprise a large number of the victims of human trafficking for both sex and labor. In response, in 2003, the FBI initiated the Innocence Lost National Initiative which resulted in the creation of 69 different Child Exploitation Task Forces. These task forces are designed to address the problem of children in human trafficking, and by June 2013, they located and saved more than 2,700 children. These successes resulted in the conviction of another 1,300 perpetrators for sex trafficking of minors.

The Innocence Lost National Initiative resulted in another 1,769 arrests in 2012 and 363 investigated cases which produced 187 indictments and 302 convictions.

Trafficking of Migrants and Illegal Aliens

Often poor migrants and illegal aliens are victims of human traffickers who promise sweet freedom in the U.S.; victims find themselves enslaved instead of enjoying the fruits of a new life in America.

31% of migrant workers report having been a victim of at least one human trafficking incident during their time here in the U.S. Those working in the cleaning or janitorial fields are at the highest risk, followed by construction and then landscaping.

Gender-Based Human Trafficking

Women are the majority of victims clocking in at a staggering 59% with men comprising only 14% of the victims. With child victims, 17% are girls, and 10% are boys.
The average age of victims is 11-14 years old. Sadly, the average lifespan of a minor sex trafficking victim is seven years; with death occurring from attack, abuse, malnutrition, suicide or sexually transmitted diseases.
17% of human trafficking incidents of sex with underage girls start on the Internet.
The largest atrisk group are runaway children who are often found and abducted by human trafficking workers.

Resources and Help for Victims

If you or someone you know is a victim or a survivor of human trafficking, there are many government resources available to help them cope and build new lives.