How many victims of human trafficking are there in the USA? More than 1 million, according to shocking new findings.
This is nearly triple the estimate from the previous version of the same research study, published six years ago, when the figure was closer to 400,000. The new study has a refined methodology, suggesting that the earlier figure was perhaps an underestimate – so some of the rise reflects better data, rather than a rise in prevalence of the crime itself on such a scale.
The country study by Global Slavery Index estimates that:
Modern slavery is an internationally recognized umbrella term for crimes including human trafficking in which human beings are controlled, coerced and exploited for profit, whether through labor, sex trafficking and forced prostitution, domestic servitude or criminal exploitation.
As Hope for Justice has reported, human trafficking data is not aggregated nationally and there is a lack of consistency in reporting and definitions. This means that there is no single reliable figure for the exact number of human trafficking cases in the U.S. that are actually reported. The best proxy estimate may be the data published by the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which received 10,360 reports of suspected human trafficking cases in 2021.
The report authors give overall praise to the U.S. Government’s response to the issue, though the score is still 67/100, suggesting more can be done. They say it has “the equal second strongest response globally behind the UK”, and: “This reflects robust measures to identify and support survivors and action to eliminate modern slavery from supply chains, including through the introduction of the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act in 2021.”
In terms of who is most vulnerable, the authors state: “Vulnerability is largely driven by discrimination towards migrants and minority groups, irregular migration and organized crime along the US-Mexico border, poverty, and the use of state-imposed forced labor within the prison system…”
In Hope for Justice’s own experience with sex trafficking survivors specifically, runaway youth are another particularly vulnerable group.
The U.S. statistics are produced using the same methodology responsible for the estimate that there are 49.6 million people globally in modern-day slavery, which Hope for Justice judges to be the most up-to-date and accurate figure available, considering the huge difficulties in uncovering the true prevalence of this hidden and complex crime. The global figure is published by International Labor Organization, Walk Free and the International Organisation for Migration.
Hope for Justice is expanding our work across the United States to fight human trafficking. Hope for Justice’s U.S. headquarters is based in Nashville, TN, where we have an Investigative Hub. We have another Hub in Iowa covering the wider Midwest region, plus a presence in Colorado, Washington D.C. and Florida. In North Carolina, we are developing an expanded, holistic model called a Regional Center, to provide a comprehensive, end-to-end strategy that will decrease and eventually eradicate human trafficking in the United States. We are calling this wider model the RISE Program. We are planning to establish additional regional centers over the next three to five years – creating a network throughout the United States that will expand our reach, deepen our impact, and create resilient communities where survivors of human trafficking can thrive.
We rely on public donations and support to deliver these life-changing programs. If you want to be part of the solution to human trafficking in the United States, see how you can Get Involved.