A two-year study that concentrated on just 40 Uber drivers in Washington D.C. revealed some interesting points about their working conditions, pay, and motivation. The study, from Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, showed that drivers are operating at an information deficit when it comes to their earnings:
Uber drivers don’t know how much they earn (or lose). As a 53-year-old Uber driver, Suzanna, put it, her weekly pay was hard to gauge because “it changes every time they change the rules.” Harry Campbell, a ride-hail industry blogger, says that drivers need 20 pieces of information in order to determine their earnings.
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Since Uber entered the D.C. market in 2011, it has cut drivers’ base rates, added a rider safety fee (“booking fee”), and increased its own commission.
Of the 40 drivers in the study, 38% didn’t know things like how Uber decided the amount drivers took home from a single fare, whether they were required to buy commercial insurance, or how to file their taxes at the end of the year.
33% of Uber drivers took on debt related to the job, and 30% of drivers reported physical assault or safety fears.
However, 50% of drivers would recommend it to a friend, and 45% planned to drive for at least another six months. 90% of them started out to add to an existing income.
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