Here's How Much Uber Drivers Are Really Earning In America

Uber driverLucy Nicholson/ReutersTransportation app Uber driver Shuki Zanna, 49, waits for customers in his limousine in Beverly Hills, California, December 19, 2013.

Uber claims its drivers can make $US90,000 a year driving for UberX in New York City.

Last month, Business Insider talked to Uber drivers who said they weren’t making nearly that much.

In response to criticism about how much drivers really make, Uber’s New York City general manager Josh Mohrer said he would speak on the record to journalists who took 10 random Uber rides and collected pay stubs from their drivers.

BuzzFeed reporter Johana Bhuiyan decided to take Mohrer up on his offer. In doing so, she took Uber rides with 11 random UberX drivers and collected eight of the 11 drivers’ pay stubs (Uber didn’t provide the pay stub for one driver, and two others weren’t comfortable showing Bhuiyan their payment information).

Many factors affect how much an Uber driver takes home: There’s the basics, like how many hours a week they drive, what time of the day or the year it is, and what the weather’s like outside. But there are also expenses drivers pay for — the cost of a car rental, insurance, gas, and normal wear-and-tear. These expenses aren’t covered by Uber, so they come out of drivers’ pockets.

It’s possible to make a decent hourly wage with Uber, but that’s before all the expenses that independent contractor drivers pay out of pocket.

To make $US90,000, Bhuiyan found, a driver would have to make approximately $US7,500 a month, or $US1,731 weekly.

If a driver typically works 12-hour days, six days a week — a figure that doesn’t appear typical at all — he or she would need to net $US24.04 an hour. If a driver worked 12-hour days, four or five days a week, the driver would need to net $US36.06 or $US28.85 an hour respectively. For a driver that typically works 10-hour days — a more realistic figure — and drives four to six days a week, the driver would need to make between an average of $US28.85 and $US43.27 an hour.

After doing the maths, Bhuiyan concluded drivers are taking home far less than $US90,000.

Because drivers incur a myriad of different costs and all driver patterns and behaviours vary wildly, it is nearly impossible to estimate with certainty exactly what the average driver makes (because there really is no such thing as an average Uber driver).

The numbers obtained by BuzzFeed News offer only a small slice from a particular time of the year. Since driving hours and patterns are subject to a variety of factors like time of year, even time of day, and weather, a definitive average number cannot be calculated with this sample size. However, if we assume an average weighted driver wage of $US21.90 per hour, which factors in just a fraction of driver expenses, and assume drivers work 30 hours a week (again, not necessarily typical, but a middle range of the hours worked by the eight drivers we spoke to), we can assume a rough projected yearly driver salary of $US34,164.

You can read BuzzFeed’s whole report here.

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