Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Tina Jaeckle

Committee Member

Grace A. Telesco

Committee Member

Richard R. Schoeberl


Child Labor, Covid-19, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking, Labor Trafficking, Modern Slavery, generic qualitative study, and thematic analysis


Human trafficking is a global phenomenon where traffickers prey upon their victims without discriminating against age, gender, ethnic background, or nationality. The United States (US) is not immune to the human rights violations of human trafficking. The victims of human trafficking are coerced into a life of exploitation through forced labor or sexual exploitation. Many victims are migrants from disadvantaged countries that travel to the US seeking employment but end up the victims of abuse, both physically and mentally, at the hands of traffickers. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the global economy, forcing quarantines, travel bans, and social distancing. Large and small businesses closed, causing financial distress to many households. As the pandemic unfolded, it became clear that the US government was ill-prepared to withstand its effects on labor trafficking. This generic qualitative study aimed to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on labor trafficking in the US. The theoretical framework for the push and pull factors was explored as a migration element of labor trafficking and an attempt to examine the pandemic as a factor to consider in this theory. The research questions focused on understanding how the experts in labor trafficking described their experiences of the pandemic’s impact on forced labor. A purposive sampling technique facilitated the selection of participants, thus producing applicable and valuable information for the study. The generic qualitative study utilized semi-structured interviews to assemble data from the participants. Finally, Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-step framework was explored to analyze the narratives utilizing thematic analysis. This research explored conclusions derived from experts in labor trafficking to understand this phenomenon that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.