Prostitution Revealed: Study Looks At The Economy Of The Sex Industry

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A new study by the Urban Institute, commissioned by the Justice Department, looked at the underground commercial prostitution economy of eight major U.S. cities. The study interviewed more than 250 individuals who were charged and convicted for crimes related to prostitution.

Once the report was completed, the eight cities studied as of 2007, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego and Washington, D.C., were ranked. Atlanta has the most lucrative economy, while Denver ranked last.

You can check out how seven cities ranked below:

1. Atlanta – $290 million
2. Miami – $112 million
3. D.C. – $103 million
4. Dallas – $99 million
5. San Diego – $97 million
6. Denver – $40 million

The industry in the eight cities rakes in nearly $1 billion per year. With the digital age, much of the solicitation has gone online. Pimps and workers advertise on sites like and

On average, a pimp earned between $5,000 and $32,833 per week while employing, on average, five sex workers at a time. Unsurprisingly, there is a high turnover rate amongst sex workers. Across the country, pimps charged johns an average of $150 per hour, which averaged $250 per hour before the recession.

Anecdotally, we heard that the downturn in the economy reduced the price point,” said Meredith Dank, senior research associate of the Urban Institute and lead author of the study, in an interview with CNBC.

While it may appear that prostitution and pimping seem like lucrative endeavors, expenses are high.

Prostitution and pimping — in many cases that’s not particularly profitable,” said Amy Farrell, a researcher not involved in the study at Northeastern University, in an interview with the New York Times.

Apparently, it’s still hard out there for a pimp.

Another finding from the study revealed that family was a strong influence for many to get into prostitution. About 30 percent of the individuals interviewed said they had family members in the industry. Many joined the industry during personal dire circumstances.

The study hopes to inform law enforcement officials about the motivations of those in the industry and help improve how victims are treated.