America's booming tattoo economy: By the numbers

Tattoos, once the ultimate rebel stamp, have become routine embellishments — fueling an ink industry that rakes in billions of dollars per year

Man getting a tattoo
(Image credit: Stonehill/Corbis)

To ink or not to ink? This week, the American Medical Association published what's considered to be the first scientific survey of tattoo removal, detailing which tattoos are hardest to remove (blue ink) and what factors reduce the odds of erasing the damn thing (smoking). The report is a sure sign that tattoos — once the province of rock stars and ne'er-do-wells — have become thoroughly mainstream. Indeed, today not only are tattoo artists enjoying a robust growth-industry, their counterparts — the tattoo-effacement experts — are busily tending to Americans who regret that faded tribal design encircling their biceps or have discovered that the Chinese character on their wrist has an unwelcome meaning. Here, a numerical guide to America's tattoo obsession:

$2.3 billion

Annual revenue of the tattoo industry

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Tattoo parlors in America


Percent of Americans who have a tattoo


Percent of women who have a tattoo


Percent of men who have a tattoo


Percent of 18-to-25-year-olds who have a tattoo


Percent of 30-to-39-year-olds who have a tattoo


Percent of 50-to-64-year-olds who have a tattoo


Percent of people who think having a tattoo is rebellious

$80 to $100

Average per hour cost of a tattoo


Per hour cost of a tattoo in Brooklyn, N.Y.


Cost of a laser tattoo removal session


Sessions needed to remove a tattoo


Percentage increase in tattoo removals over the last year

Sources: Harris Interactive, Mental Floss, The Motley Fool, NBC News, Pew Research Center, Tattoo Info, The Wall Street Journal (2)

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