RELEASE: Gig Passenger and Delivery Driver Pay in Five Metro Areas


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 20, 2024
Media Contact: Julie Light, julie.light@berkeley.edu, 415-215-5737

Gig drivers scrape by

Most California drivers make sub-minimum wage after Prop 22, as do drivers in Boston, Seattle, and Chicago

Berkeley, CA–A first-of-its-kind analysis of app passenger and delivery drivers’ wages in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle metropolitan areas finds that gig drivers are barely scraping by. Drawing on data from more than 52,000 trips by almost 1,100 drivers, researchers at the UC Berkeley Labor Center and Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics found that most drivers in these cities make significantly less than minimum wage when all work time, gas, and vehicle wear and tear are factored in. The findings come as the California Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments tomorrow on a challenge to Prop 22, a gig company-sponsored measure that classified drivers as independent contractors. Meanwhile, an ongoing trial in Boston examines the Massachusetts Attorney General’s challenge to classifying drivers as independent contractors.

The report finds that the median wage for a California passenger app driver was about $5.97 per hour without tips and $7.63 per hour with tips. Meal delivery drivers made even less: $4.98 an hour without tips and $11.43 with tips, well below the state minimum wage of $16.00 an hour.

Proponents of Proposition 22 claimed it would raise earnings for gig drivers in California. However, the data shows drivers for Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, and other rideshare and delivery companies in California earning well below the state minimum and Uber and Lyft drivers earning less than their counterparts in Boston, Chicago, and Seattle.

“A deep dive into the data shows that drivers are making sub-minimum wages,” said Ken Jacobs, co-chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center and one of the report’s authors. “Gig drivers are getting a raw deal.”

“We were especially surprised by the low pay of delivery drivers. Once you factor in expenses, many delivery drivers are just working for tips,” said Professor Michael Reich, chair of the UC Berkeley Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics and another of the report’s authors.

The findings indicate that Proposition 22-like policies proposed in other states, such as Massachusetts, are unlikely to bring drivers’ earnings up to the state minimum wage.

Report authors Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich will hold a Zoom briefing for reporters at 11:00 am today, Monday, May 20.

Read the full report

Press Briefing

When: 11:00 am PT, Monday, May 20

Where: https://berkeley.zoom.us/j/98496416251?pwd=OXRvSmplUWFQMkxYWTgwVmd4NWFoQT09

Who: Ken Jacobs and Michael Reich

What: The authors will highlight key findings and answer questions about Gig Passenger and Delivery Driver Pay in Five Metro Areas

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The UC Berkeley Labor Center conducts research and education on issues related to labor and employment. >We work with unions, government, and employers to develop innovative policy perspectives and programs. 

The Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics is recognized for its research on the impact of minimum and subminimum wage policies, low-wage labor markets, and the emerging gig economy.