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News from EPI Uber drivers earn the equivalent of $9.21 in hourly wages: Resources and research on Uber and the gig economy

EPI researchers have released several papers examining Uber and gig-work apps on the labor market that are newly relevant in light of the upcoming Uber driver strike, the company’s IPO, and increased interest in Uber’s business model and relationship with drivers.

In Uber and the labor market: Uber drivers’ compensation, wages, and the scale of Uber and the gig economy, EPI Distinguished Fellow Lawrence Mishel found that Uber drivers earned the equivalent of $9.21 in hourly wages, after accounting for Uber’s commissions and fees and vehicle expenses, and taking into account the cost of a modest package of health insurance and other benefits equivalent to those earned by W-2 workers.

In his research, Mishel also provided several estimates of Uber’s size relative to the overall economy. Approximately 833,000 people drive for Uber in a year, accounting for 0.56 percent of all employment. But such an estimate ignores that Uber drivers have high turnover, working an average of three months and average only 17 hours per week. Adjusting for the part-year and part-time character of the work means that Uber drivers equate to 90,521 full-time, full-year workers, or just 0.07 percent of overall national full-time, full-year equivalent employment.

In Uber business model does not justify a new ‘independent worker’ category, Mishel and Senior Fellow Ross Eisenbrey argued that Uber drivers should be classified as W-2 employees, as they do not have the control over their hours and working conditions necessary to justify

Mishel is available for interviews on this and other topics.