Incidence of trafficking


The actual incidence of human trafficking in the U.S. is unknown especially at the national level. Much of the data available is based on estimates from populations at risk. Some estimates are as follows:

Estes and Weiner (2001) state there are 244,000 American youths at risk for being inducted into sex trades.

The U.S. Department of States in 2006 estimates 14,500 to 17,500 additional individuals from foreign countries are trafficked yearly into the U.S.

National arrest data of prostitutes, which includes forced prostitution, is another source of estimates of human trafficking. A report by the Scelles Foundation estimates there are 1 million prostitutes in the U.S. (Langer et al, 2004). It is calculated that 40% of prostitutes are forced into this sex trade by traffickers.

There are even fewer reliable and valid statistics that describe trafficking for forced labor. According to the International Labor Organization (2002) girls are typically trafficked for sexual exploitation and domestic service while boys are used for forced labor in farming, small criminal activities including the drug trade. The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) estimates there are 5.5 million children between the ages of 12 and 17 employed in the U. S. In some cases, these children are working as ‘street peddlers’ selling candy, magazines, drugs and a variety of goods. How many of those children are forced into this employment is unknown.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) maintains a call-in center where trafficked individuals can call for help and others can report cases. Since victims are often unable or fearful of reporting their situation, the statistics available are described as considerably lower than the amount of trafficking that is occurring. In 2017, the NHTH received 26,557 calls with 8,524 cases reported. Their website lists the number of calls from all the U.S. states. California and Texas are the states with the most call ins. Again, the number of these call ins are exceptionally small compared to the large number of individuals being trafficked in the U.S. Accessed November 1, 2017.

State trafficking estimates


The California Against Slavery (CAS) organization has as its mission the following:

The mission of CAS Research and Education (CASRE) is to protect children, women, and men from being victimized through human trafficking and exploitation.

The CAS has been focusing on children in foster care as especially vulnerable to being targeted by traffickers.  These children need love, a feeling of belonging and protection.  Traffickers offer them a sense of family.  The CAS reports 50% to 80% of sexually exploited children had involvement with the child welfare system. In Los Angeles County they found 58% of the 72 sexually trafficked girls were foster children.  In Alameda county, 41% of 267 trafficked victims were in foster care.

New York

New York City is described as the hub for human trafficking in New York state.  Safe Horizons, a national organization committed to ‘empower victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking’, states NYC’s proximity to international ports, industries with severe labor violations, large numbers of homeless people, runaways and foster care children leads to its large number of trafficked victims. 17% of the human trafficking cases across the country reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline came from NYC. The city even has a Vice Major Case/Human trafficking Team which monitors short stay hotels and digital solicitations. They report human trafficking cases to be up 50% this year.


Texas provides opportunities for traffickers to find victims because of its location, immigrant communities, and 6,000 runaway minors. According to a benchmark study of human trafficking by members of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault from the School of Social work at the University of Texas at Austin, there are estimated to be 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas.  Of these victims, 79,000 are minors solicited into sex trafficking. These statistics estimate that 25% of children that are in the foster care system, are victims of abuse and/or are homeless are likely to become trafficked.

It is estimated that there are 234,000 victims of labor trafficking. Labor trafficking estimates are determined by the percentage of victimized migrant farmworker (28%), cleaning services workers (36%), construction workers (35%), kitchen workers (32%) and landscaping and grounds workers (27%) will be victims of trafficking (Armendariz, 2016).

While California, New York and Texas are considered states with large numbers of trafficking victims, no states are free from incidences of human trafficking.  The calls to the NHTH do not claim to represent the total incidences of trafficking in each state, but they do provide some indication of high to low numbers of call ins.

The following is a report of human trafficking by states from highest to lowest conveyed to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) in 2017.

California: 1305
Texas: 792
Florida: 604
Ohio: 365
New York: 333
Michigan: 305
Georgia: 276
North Carolina: 221
Nevada: 199
Pennsylvania: 199
Illinois: 193
Arizona 181
Washington: 163

New Jersey: 161
Virginia: 156
Missouri: 140
South Carolina: 118
Maryland: 115
Colorado: 110
Tennessee: 110
Louisiana: 107
Indiana: 93
Massachusetts: 92
Wisconsin: 91
Kentucky: 81
Oregon: 79

Oklahoma: 75
Iowa: 74
Minnesota: 74
Alabama: 68
Kansas: 67
Nebraska: 63
District of Columbia: 61
Connecticut: 57
Arkansas: 42
Mississippi: 39
New Mexico: 37
Utah: 33
Hawaii: 28

Montana: 26
North Dakota: 23 Delaware: 21
Maine: 19
South Dakota: 16
West Virginia: 16
Idaho: 13
Wyoming: 13
Vermont: 12
Rhode Island: 11
Alaska: 10
New Hampshire:5

Instant feedback

Which of the following is a true statement about Human Trafficking in various states?
All states have about the same incidence of trafficking victims.
California is the state with the most victim calls ins to the nation hotline.
About 80% of the states have trafficked victims report.
All of the above.
Here is a link to cities with the highest numbers of trafficking calls. Most Populous Cities Report.pdf