The Hustle: Economics of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy

Prostitution is said to be the world’s oldest profession, but understanding the size and scope of this economy, and the methods and actors involved in this trade, is still a murky endeavor.

Outside the sex sold legally in Nevada, prostitution in the United States transpires in the shadows of an underground economy. There are no accounting records to trace, no receipts to scrutinize, and no legal records to analyze. Simply, it is difficult to grasp the size of this economy.

But a groundbreaking study from the Urban Institute sheds new light on how much money is generated by the underground commercial sex economy in American cities.

This interactive feature was paired with Urban's 400+ page report. It was my team's job to translate the work into a more managable package. To accompany a short narrative by my colleague, I used original photography, interactive maps, and static charts to help tell the story.