Two researches reach really different conclusions about ride-hail earnings, together city public official consider setting a minimum wage.

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One examine of ride-hail driver earnings contained the expense of insurance, if a second excluded it due to the fact that most vehicle drivers would very own a auto anyway. Photograph: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Since Uber and also Lyft changed urban transportation v ride-hail services, there’s to be a huge outstanding question: exactly how much do vehicle drivers make?

Dueling files released Monday—one from Cornell university commissioned by the ride-hail companies, and also one by researcher from The new School and UC Berkeley commissioned by the city the Seattle—will do tiny to resolve the question. One claims the average Seattle driver makes $23.25 one hour. The other says $9.73.

Why the large disparity? Driver pay is complicated. Among ride-hail’s sharpest innovations—off-loading many costs linked with a vehicle service, including car payments, part insurance, and also fuel—makes that even much more so.


Seattle officials commissioned the brand-new School–Berkeley examine to aid them collection a minimum wage for ride-hail vehicle drivers there. The examine proposes a wage of $28.19 every hour, i beg your pardon the authors say would allow drivers to knife the city’s minimum fairy of $16.39 after bookkeeping for their expenses. Minimum-wage regulations for drivers, and also driver pay in general, is vital to the ride-hail companies’ finances together they seek to prove out the basic economics of the business.

The Cornell record examines the pay and expenses of more than 14,100 Seattle Uber and Lyft motorists during one week in October 2019, utilizing data native the ride-hail companies. The researchers say the their accessibility to actual (and anonymized) driver data allowed them to do more-precise calculations around how much vehicle drivers earn every hour. Your conclusion—$23.25 an hour, also after audit for expenses—is well above most other researchers’.


“I was really surprised,” says Louis Hyman, an financial historian at Cornell’s college of industrial & Labor relations who operated on the paper. “That’s pretty great money, especially if you compare it against service economy jobs.” In Seattle, the record estimates, a permanent driver would certainly make a median yearly income the $47,400, close come the city’s median earnings for all occupations, $52,945.


But the evil one is in the details, and also Hyman and also his team do what the acknowledges room some controversial decisions when structure their model. For example, lock excluded countless costs linked with owning a car, such together insurance. Your reasoning: 96 percent that the chauffeurs on the apps drove much less than 40 hrs a week because that work, therefore they would certainly have confronted these prices anyway. The researchers did account because that depreciation, part maintenance costs, and fuel.


“$23.25 one hour is BS. Yes sir no way. If civilization were making the money, everyone and also their uncle would be driving for Uber.”

Sergio Avedian, Los Angeles-area ride-hail driver


Uber and Lyft commissioned the Cornell study; Hyman and also the service providers say the money assisted offset some study expenses. The carriers also detailed feedback on early stage drafts. The document has not been peer-reviewed, despite the authors say they intend to at some point publish the in an scholastic journal.


Drivers who spoke come audioeditorfree.com to be skeptical. “$23.25 one hour is BS. Yes no way,” says Sergio Avedian, who drives part-time in Los Angeles and coaches other ride-hail drivers on just how to make the many of their gig. “If world were making that money, everyone and their uncle would be driving because that Uber.”

Avedian states wages are greater in Seattle 보다 Los Angeles, whereby he lives, in component because the market is smaller. But he takes issue with the Cornell researchers’ decision to dismiss some repair and also insurance costs. Avedian advises drivers to buy insurance especially designed for ride-hail drivers, which deserve to cost an ext than $100 a month. He estimates he takes home about $20 an hour, but only through obsessing over details favor which rides come accept and decline. He thinks most vehicle drivers make minimum wage or less.


“To make much more than $23 an hour, you not only have to be good. You need to be lucky,” states Jay Morran, who drove for both companies in the Los Angeles area until early this year.

The second paper, i was delegated by Seattle and written by economic experts James Parrott and Michael Reich, calculated driver pay really differently. It’s based on an digital survey perfect by an ext than 6,500 licensed Seattle ride-hail drivers and reflects one mainly in December 2019. Vice versa, the Cornell work-related calculates driver prices at 19 cents a mile, the Parrott and Reich one pins it closer to 52 cent a mile, consisting of insurance, a cabinet phone, and vehicle cleaning. “This is the biggest resource for how come up v net pay being so huge: They’re just not audit for business costs,” states Reich, an business economics professor in ~ Berkeley’s academy for research on Labor and also Employment.

The Parrott–Reich study additionally counts all of the time drivers spend logged on come the application as “working time,” also if a driver is wait for a ride. Through contrast, the Cornell record counts wait time only if it leader to a ride; that reduces the total working time—and boosts the per-hour approximated pay—for each driver. The Parrott–Reich paper was the review by university of Washington transportation experts and also the city the Seattle. The authors did similar research in new York City, which aided that city’s Taxi and also Limousine Commission collection a driver minimum wage critical year.

In a statement, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan claimed the city would use the Parrott-Reich examine to collection a minimum fairy for motorists equivalent to at the very least the city's "minimum fairy plus reasonable expenses." The statement stated the examine "comes at a time when protecting workers without a security net is even more critical."

Other studies, based upon research from driver inspection data, indicate that drivers make between $5.72 and $14.17 an hour ~ expenses, depending on the regional market and which costs are consisted of in the calculation.

It is really rare because that ride-hail providers to re-publishing data with exterior researchers. The providers have also sued some cities come block rules that would call for them to share data, in part, castle say, to defend driver and also rider privacy. Most scholastic work about driver earnings comes around in two ways: one of two people an economist that works for Uber or Lyft is a coauthor, or an academic collects data on their own, either with surveys or—in the instance of Stanford University and the college of Colorado teams—by actually driving for the apps themselves and also mining the data for revelations.

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An Uber spokesperson called the Cornell research “an independent, data-driven photo of the complete earnings experience of ride-share drivers” and also said, “We hope policymakers will certainly take a fact-based strategy as they consider new policy propose by making use of the insights” from the work. Uber stated the Parrott-Reich examine "is based upon incomplete data and also flawed assumptions about drivers’ experience that are unsupported through facts, evidence or reality."

In a declare on the Cornell study, a Lyft spokesperson said, “We are positive the city will usage this objective data to establish a systematic guaranteed earnings floor.” Neither company immediately responded to questions about the Parrott–Reich analysis. Currently the city will certainly decide how much its drivers ought to it is in paid.