Human Trafficking in the US is More Prevalent than You Think

Although it’s hard to imagine, human trafficking is much more prevalent in the United States than one would believe, as we look at some statistics, the best and the worst states, as well as, what’s being done to prevent it.

What is human trafficking?

Human tracking trades the use of human beings as slaves, forcing them into labor, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation for the benefit of the trafficker or others. It also includes forced marriages, or humans used for the extraction of organs or tissues, including surrogacy or removal of the ova.

Human trafficking has become a $150 billion industry worldwide, according to an estimate by the International Labor Organization.

Many organizations are working to stop forced labor, especially force child labor, as well as sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking statistics

The United States is working hard at both the state and federal levels to detect and stop human trafficking activities.

  • The US Labor Department identified 148 goods coming from 75 countries that were the product of forced child labor.
  • According to a 2017 study, it is estimated that 1 in 7 endangered runaways who are reported each year to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, are likely child sex trafficking victims. And of those, 88% of those were in foster care or the care of social services when they ran away.
  • The Polaris Project reports that in the past decade, more than 49,000 total cases of human trafficking has been reported through their hotline and they receive an average of 150 calls per day.
  • Among the human trafficking cases reported in the last 10 years to the Polaris Project, 34,700 of those were for sex trafficking cases in the US.

The worst US states for human trafficking

According to the 2017 statistics, the most dangerous state with the worst enforcement and handling of human trafficking cases is Virginia. In 2015, Virginia scored 66 on a scale of 0-100, and rose slightly to a score of 71 out of 100 in 2017.

According to information from the Polaris Project, the following states are among the worst for laws pertaining to human trafficking: Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Arkansas, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Alaska and Hawaii.

The safest US states for human trafficking

According to 2017 statistics, the safest state with the best enforcement and handling of human trafficking cases is Tennessee, which rated 93.3 on a scale of 0-100. Besides substantial penalties for sex trafficking, the state of Tennessee provides law enforcement the tools necessary to perform effective investigations.

Additionally, on a rating requirement considering 10 conditions for laws and law enforcement that help with child trafficking, only the following states met 7-9 of those conditions: Washington, California, Texas, Minnesota, Florida and Connecticut.

Getting help, information and reporting human trafficking

One of the biggest advocates leading the way in the fight against human trafficking is the Polaris Project. They operate a National Human Trafficking Hotline at: 1-888-373-7888 and offer robust information on their website at: