Uber Drivers Don't Understand How Little They're Making

Mr. Gig

Dec 6, 2018
I've always thought this - after talking to Uber drivers and hearing them bragging about how "ok" they're doing. It's like pulling teeth to get them to really understand all the expenses they're incurring. And I know they're not doing well because I'm an Uber driver too!

But a new study is out saying that drivers in D.C. don't know (or understand) the true cost of driving for Uber. And they don't understand how much they really make driving.

So, these researchers from Georgetown's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, (I've never heard of it either), practically lived with 40 D.C. drivers over a 2-year period.

Some of their findings were astounding (that is if you've never driven for Uber before). One of the researchers, Katie Wells, said, "Driving for Uber is like a mystery box. While many drivers enjoy working for Uber, these individuals nonetheless deserve the opportunity for fair wages and better working conditions. The number one complaint she heard from drivers was that it was “difficult to play the game.” Drivers told her that the rules were always changing, including where surge pricing was in effect and different bonuses offered week to week."

Other interesting points:
But Wells says many drivers don’t realize the expense associated with driving. She listed 20 factors to calculate a true hourly wage including, gas, car maintenance, depreciation, and hours on the road. And taxes were the biggest surprise for most drivers, she said.
“All of this shapes how much you can take home,” Wells said. One example from the report was particularly stark:

In the week before we met, Beatrice drove for Uber for 14 hours. After Uber took out its 25% commission and booking fees, she earned about $300. Then she took out her weekly expenses of $170 for the lease and $63 for the vehicle insurance.What these expenses meant was Beatrice had netted less than $5 per hour. Moreover, these rates meant that if Beatrice continued to drive for Uber, she would have $12,040 worth of annual expenses in addition to the costs of gas and vehicle maintenance, which could be significant as she put 3,000 miles on her car in the last month alone.​
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Austin Bob

Dec 15, 2018
What City & State do you work in?
San Antonio
Good post Mr. Gig, but you forgot to put a link to the actual study. It's here.

And you left out the main points:

1. Uber drivers do not know how much they earn or lose. • 100% of drivers experienced difficulties with, or barriers to, calculating their actual compensation.
2. Data about the Uber workplace is limited. • Regulators and researchers do not have access to basic information about labor conditions.
3. Uber drivers are encouraged to take on financial risk and debt. • 33% of drivers took on debt as a result of their work on the ride-hailing platform.
4. Uber drivers report challenges to their health and safety. • 30% of drivers reported physical assaults or safety concerns.
5. Despite these challenges, the Uber workplace remained attractive. • 50% of drivers would recommend the job to a friend. • 45% of drivers planned to keep working the job for at least six more months.