Uber, Lyft drivers make US$3.37 per hour

An Uber car waits for a client in Manhattan in June 2017. A study from MIT says most drivers are making less than minimum wage

The Guardian reports the situation isn't much better for the other 70%, as the median profit for drivers for the two ride-share companies is just $3.37 per hour before taxes.

Drivers for Uber and Lyft earn a median of $3.37 per hour, according to a new study by the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.

If you are driving for Uber or Lyft, you aren't going to make any money. Researchers surveyed over 1,100 drivers and analyzed vehicle cost data, including insurance, repairs, and fuel.

"This business model is not now sustainable", said Stephen Zoepf, executive director of Stanford University's Center for Automotive Research and coauthor of the paper. Someone might tell themselves that they already pay for their auto, so any money they make is pure profit. In 2017, courts in both North Carolina and NY ruled in Uber drivers' favor to be classified as employees, which could eventually entitle them to higher pay and more benefits.

Uber spokesperson Michael Amodeo released a statement questioning the accuracy of the findings: "While the paper is certainly attention grabbing, its methodology and findings are deeply flawed. The businesses are being subsidized by [venture capital] money and the drivers are essentially subsidizing it by working for very low wages". "Because of this deduction, most ride-hailing drivers are able to declare profits that are substantially lower", the paper stated. They also said that detailed driver costs should be the subject of future study.

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"Many drivers are doing this job part time and really only looking to make a few hundred bucks a week", Campbell said, "but figuring out how much they are actually earning can be quite challenging".

Independent studies on driver earnings are rare.

It was only past year that Uber introduced the option to tip drivers into its app for customers.

A study [PDF] put out this week, and carried out by Stanford researchers Stephen Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu and Gonzalo Pozo, has found that almost half of all drivers could actually claim that for tax purposes their work was a net loss.

Last year, the company shut down its U.S. auto leasing business after discovering it was losing 18 times more money per vehicle than it had previously understood.

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