Stolen in Plain Sight: Losing Track of Forced Labor in the United States

By USCRI April 9, 2024

A study¹ on forced labor by the International Labour Organization (ILO) found that profits from forced labor amount to $236 billion annually. If this number represented a country, it would be among the top third wealthiest nations in the world—on par with Qatar, wealthier than Greece, and more than two times wealthier than Kenya. This figure represents stolen livelihoods from workers who are already struggling. For migrant workers, it is money taken from remittances sent home. It represents a loss of autonomy and freedom. It stifles economic growth for families, future generations, and entire communities. And if left unchecked, it can enable criminals and incentivize further exploitation.

According to the report, profits rose by 37 percent since 2014, fueled by an increase in the number of people in forced labor and higher profits resulting from individual exploitation. It is estimated that each victim results in almost $10,000 in profit, which increases to more than $15,000 in the Americas.

According to the study, there were 27.6 million people in forced labor on any given day in 2021, an increase from 24.9 million in 2016. An estimated 6.3 million individuals were in situations of forced commercial sex, 75 percent of whom were women and girls, with children accounting for more than a quarter of these cases. While the study includes regional differences, it lacks information at the country level.

1.Profits and poverty: The economics of forced labour



Click here to read the report.


USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

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