Turk Median Income - just $2 an hour

Mr. Gig

Dec 6, 2018
A very interesting article in The Atlantic claims the median income of a Turk worker is just $2 an hour. Median income means that half of all workers make more than $2 an hour but the other half makes less! So, half of all Turks make less than $2 an hour. Amazing, right?

It's sad that for a lot of Americans this kind of wage is the only work they can do. I used to tell my kids that 'computers' were the way to go. Learn everything you can about computers, software, coding, etc. And I still think that's true. Jobs that need those skills are some of the highest paying jobs there are.

But Turk is way over on the other end of the scale. Turk Workers all have to use computers to do their work, but their computer skills are not getting them ahead at all. It's like we've created this new computerized equivalent of the sweat shops of old - where people used to work for pennies an hour.

Personally in my opinion, I believe that since Amazon doesn't put any rules in place so that requestors are free to offer pay as low as 10 cents an hour, that it's a platform that gives us an insight into human nature and those who are at the bottom of the barrel. Seriously... what kind of person would offer $0.01 an hour for work? A person who wants to exploit people for their own personal gain.

And when they offer a HIT for $0.10 an hour - they don't tell you it's ten cents for an hour. They'll tell you it's 10 cents for a task that will only take 3 minutes. But they lie and exploit. The truth is sometimes that the task will take an hour.

Here's an excerpt from a study done last year:

A recent Mechanical Turk listing, for example, offered workers 80 cents to read a restaurant review and then answer a survey about their impressions of it; the time limit was 45 minutes. Another, which asked workers to fill out a 15-minute psychological questionnaire about what motivates people to do certain tasks, offered $1, but allowed that the job could take three hours.

A growing number of people are working as part of on-line crowd work, which has been characterized by its low wages; yet, we know little about wage distribution and causes of low/high earnings. We recorded 2,676 workers performing 3.8 million tasks on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Our task-level analysis revealed that workers earned a median hourly wage of only ~$2/h, and only 4% earned more than $7.25/h. The average requester pays more than $11/h, although lower-paying requesters post much more work. Our wage calculations are influenced by how unpaid work is included in our wage calculations, e.g., time spent searching for tasks, working on tasks that are rejected, and working on tasks that are ultimately not submitted. We further explore the characteristics of tasks and working patterns that yield higher hourly wages. Our analysis informs future platform design and worker tools to create a more positive future for crowd work.