Rideshare Driver Pay Cut in Half?

"Payouts to Rideshare Drivers Have Shrunk By Half, Study Finds"

There are multiple articles leveraging this research from the JPMorgan Chase Institute.  I’m highlighting this article because it includes two quotes, one from Lyft and one from Uber, quotes that make very good points about why this research is probably not presenting an accurate picture of current or past rideshare driver earnings.

Before sharing the quotes please know that I don’t work for Lyft or Uber.  I am an independent voice and do the work I do in support of current and future drivers.  It’s my goal to make sense out of rideshare-related news articles that, more often than not, paint a negative picture of being a rideshare driver.

From Lyft:

“The fact that this study did not examine hourly earnings, the metric that drivers care most about, has resulted in misleading headlines.  Had it done so, the results would have shown stable driver earnings in recent years.”

Exactly!  The research is not looking into what rideshare drivers earn for their time and what’s worst the headline suggests that in 2019 rideshare drivers are earning 50% less for their time compared to 5 years ago which is simply not true.

Also of note in the quote from Lyft “misleading headlines” if you follow rideshare driving news at all you’ve probably seen other scary-sounding headlines connected to articles leveraging this research.

Personally, I’ve been an Uber driver and Lyft driver for over 3 years… and after climbing the new driver learning curve my average hourly earnings have been stable for at least the past two years.

From Uber:

“If the share of our partners who drive only occasionally has increased over time, as it has, it stands to reason that the average of every driver’s monthly (or, for that matter, weekly or yearly) earnings would decrease.”

The Uber statement is pointing out that there are more part-time rideshare drivers in 2019 (presumably true for Lyft too) than there were 5 years ago and lumping part-time and full-time drivers into the same bucket then reporting that driver pay has been cut in half does not make sense.

The research from the JPMorgan Chase Institute is looking at bank account deposits from Uber and Lyft.

From the article:

“In terms of dollar amounts, Chase found that transportation gig workers’ monthly earnings decreased from $1,535 on average to just $762…”

Counting the number of people getting checks from Uber/Lyft then dividing that number by total bank deposits doesn’t tell us anything meaningful about current or past rideshare driver earnings. 

In my experience, this research highlights a common mistake used by a lot of rideshare-related research.  In an effort to report what rideshare drivers earn it’s easier to lump all rideshare drivers into the same bucket when we are not all the same. 

I drive full-time hours concentrating most of my time on driving when I am likely to earn the most earnings per hour on the road.  Another driver might get out only weekend nights; another driver might only take trips on their way home from work; another driver might just drive when the kids are at school; another driver might drive a lot this month but not drive at all next month; rideshare drivers in large cities are going to earn more per hour compared to drivers in smaller cities… the point is lumping all drivers into the same bucket and doing some math is not going to result in an accurate picture.

The best, most accurate information about what rideshare drivers earn in the United States or in a specific U.S. city would use data directly from Uber and Lyft but they rarely share that kind of data externally.

There’s nothing “wrong” or dishonest about the research in this article or any news article reporting on the study’s findings.  The goal of the research and articles is to inform the public… unfortunately, most people don’t have the experience or background to understand the value of the material.

So what does this article (and research) teach current and future drivers?  Nothing meaningful about rideshare driving earnings, that’s certain.  It does teach us that a news article’s headline might paint a negative picture of being a rideshare driver but as with most things worth thinking about the devil is in the details.

PLEASE NOTE:  I’ve worked professionally as a data analyst/business analyst and I have two science-based college degrees (that means I had to do a lot of research.)  I’m not bragging, I’m telling you that if I wanted to, I could bore the you-know-what out of you with other questions I have about how this research was conducted… but “That’s not my bag baby.”

Payouts to Rideshare Drivers Have Shrunk By Half, Study Finds


Rideshare Driver Pay Cut in Half?