03.12.143:53 PM ET

The Sex Industry by the Numbers

A government report tries to gauge the size and scale of the sex industry

Four out of five pimps choose to not sell drugs. There is very little money directly linked to child pornography. In many cases, prostitutes make as little as $5 per act, while pimps can make thousands in a week. These are a few of the findings in a breakthrough study commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department detailing the previously undocumented economics of the nation’s sex industry. Based on interviews with law enforcement officers, pimps, sex traffickers, and sex workers, the study details exchanges made in escort services, massage parlors, and brothels. It finds that the industry is composed mostly of small operations varying widely from city to city, and that the Internet, not surprisingly, has significantly altered how sex work operates—most negotiations and recruitment now happen online, not on the street. What doesn’t seem to have changed is the reason why people get involved in sex trafficking—poverty.