Working people
28 Million
people in forced labour worldwide

People in forced labour exploitation are subjected to multiple forms of coercion to compel them to work against their will.


Forced labour can be understood as all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily.


Forced labour is a concern regardless of a country’s wealth. More than half of all forced labour occurs in either upper-middle income or high-income countries. When population is taken into account, forced labour is highest in low income countries (6.3 per thousand people) followed by high income countries (4.4 per thousand).

Risk factors

Individuals have been found to be more vulnerable to forced labor than others when characterised by: unstable immigration status, language barriers, poverty and lack of basic needs, psychological effects of a recent or past trauma, lack of social support systems, and physical or developmental disabilities.


The five sectors accounting for the majority of total adult forced labour (87%) are services, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and domestic work. Other sectors form smaller shares but nonetheless still account for hundreds of thousands of people (mining and quarrying work, forced labour aboard fishing vessels, begging on the street, and illicit activities).


According to the latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, there are 27.6 million people in situations of forced labour, which translates to 3.5 people in forced labour for every thousand people in the world. Women and girls make up 11.8 million of the total in forced labour and more than 3.3 million of all those in forced labour are children.


Learn more about forced labour

Forced Labour and Forced Marriage cover
Forced Labour and Forced Marriage

Global Estimates of Modern Slavery
September 2022

ILO Indicators of Forced Labour

Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour