For many, Uber and Lyft are a cheap and convenient way to get around.
But drivers employed by the ride sharing companies don’t make much money — and often earn less than their state’s minimum wage, according to research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
Researchers surveyed more than 1,100 Uber and Lyft drivers, asking them what car they drive, how many miles they drove and their self-reported revenue. That information was compared with other factors like the cost of insurance, vehicle maintenance and fuel, the study says.
Median drivers for Uber and Lyft earn 59 cents for each mile they drive, the study found, but also lose 30 cents every mile. That results in a median profit of $3.37 for each hour on the road.
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With that rate of income, 74 percent of all drivers for the ride-sharing companies earn less than their state’s minimum wage, the researchers concluded. The mean monthly pretax profit for drivers is $661, while the median profit for a month is just $310.
When accounting for vehicle expenses, the study also found that 30 percent of drivers actually lose money for each mile they drive.
Uber called the research “deeply flawed” in a statement to The Guardian, which also reported that Lyft did not respond to a request for comment.
“While the paper is certainly attention grabbing, its methodology and findings are deeply flawed,” a spokesperson told the newspaper. “We’ve reached out to the paper’s authors to share our concerns and suggest ways we might work together to refine their approach.”
Other surveys of Uber and Lyft drivers have found they bring home a higher income.
One survey of 1,143 people found that Uber drivers bring home an average of $16.90 per hour before expenses, while those for Lyft reported an hourly income of $17.37.
And a study from Stanford University found male Uber drivers make $21.28 per hour and female drivers earn $20.04. Men tend to work an average of 18 hours a week, according to the study, while women work just under 13 hours in that same time span.
It’s estimated that there are more than 1.5 million Uber drivers in the world.