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The prostitution economy: New study finds sex trade worth nearly $1 billion in eight U.S. cities

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WASHINGTON — A study released today about the world’s oldest profession concludes that the lucrative underground commercial sex economy in eight large U.S. metropolitan areas brings in anywhere from $40 million annually to as much as nearly $300 million.

The unprecedented 340-page study by the Urban Institute, a policy research group, finds — not surprisingly — that the reach of the Internet has facilitated the flesh trade and made it harder to combat. The report and its in-depth interviews with 73 convicted pimps and traffickers also challenges conventional wisdom on the illicit side of the sex industry.

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