A Living Wage: You Drive, We Pay.

As Uber was in the midst of its IPO, Uber drivers went on strike demanding a living wage. The New York Times cautioned drivers with the following headline: “Strike All You Want. Uber Won’t Pay a Living Wage.”

What is a living wage? A living wage is the income required to meet basic needs including food, housing, and other essential items such as clothing. Government intermittently will set a minimum wage, but that threshold often falls short.

The living wage in the United States is on average $16.07 per hour. Of course, it varies city to city with New York being the highest. Uber drivers currently earn an average of $10.00 to $12.00 per hour. This is well below the living wage and it is often below the minimum wage too.

Protecting drivers with a minimum wage is complicated as shared economy drivers are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. New York recently became the first American city to adopt minimum pay for its app-based drivers. The major ride-hailing companies immediately challenged the new law by filing suit. That case has not yet resolved.

Policy makers will continue to struggle with minimum wage laws in what is always a slow and deliberative legislative process. Inevitably, any resulting laws will be immediately challenged as was New York’s. As each case winds its way through the Byzantine labyrinth of protracted litigation, can the marketplace bridge the gap between actual wage and living wage?

What can a cash-strapped shared economy driver do to earn a few extra bucks without putting in extra hours? One recent startup has provided a partial solution to this obvious pain point. Cargo allows drivers to sell goods to their passengers though its app. According to Cargo, the average driver earns about $100 per month. Exceptional drivers make up to $360 a month. It all depends on the driver’s hustle and ability to sell and upsell. Some drivers have it. Most do not.

At a time when many shared economy drivers are struggling to make ends meet, any added sources of concurrent revenue would be well received. And that’s where UVertz comes in. If you’re already working for Uber, why not allow your car to work for UVertz? By partnering with UVertz, a driver, already on the road, can make an extra $400 per month. By making their rear windows available to advertisers, drivers can earn this additional income doing what they’re already doing.

The ride-hailing industry is estimated to be a $285 billion market by 2030. With numbers like that, drivers should earn a living wage. UVertz plans to bridge that gap and give drivers and their families what they deserve.

[Sources: “Strike All You Want. Uber Won’t Pay a Living Wage,” The New York Times (May 10, 2019); “New York City sets $17 minimum wage for Uber, Lyft drivers,” Chicago Tribune (December 5, 2018); “How Cargo is helping Uber drivers earn extra cash by selling stuff to passenger,” Venture Beat (January 22, 2018); The Rideshare Guy, “What Do Rideshare Drivers Need to Know About Cargo?” (November 12, 2018); “Ride-hailing industry expected to grow eightfold to $285 billion by 2030,” Market Watch (May 27, 2017); James A. Parrot and Michael Reich, “An Earnings Standard for New York City’s App-Based Drivers Economic Analysis and Policy Assessment,” Report for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (July, 2018)]