How Much Uber Drivers Really Make

Analyzing the top news stories across the web
July 18 2014 1:05 PM

How Much Uber Drivers Really Make

451551336-in-this-photo-illustration-the-app-uber-is-launched-in
Doesn't pay what you think

Photo Illustration by David Ramos/Getty Images

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Uber has made some lofty claims about just how much its drivers can make a year. Uber has said its UberX drivers can make $90,000 a year in New York. It says drivers can make up to $60,000 per year in Dallas

Advertisement

UberX is the startup’s cheaper tier service. In New York, UberX is the startup’s lower-cost, lower-level black car service. That means those drivers are all licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. But in other places, UberX is the company’s low-cost ridesharing service. 

We put Uber’s salary claims to the test by talking to a half dozen UberX drivers in New York City and Dallas. 

“The max that I’ve made on an hourly basis is about $45 to $55 an hour,” one Dallas-based UberX driver told us. “The average on it is about $27/hour.”

At that rate, he would make about $56,000 per year on average, driving 40 hours a week. But that’s before taking into account things like the cost of gas, how often a passenger is actually in the car during those hours, and length of trip. Still, that figure is less than the $60,000 Uber has said its drivers could make.

This particular driver, who has a background in finance, has calculated that he would only make $36,988 driving 40 hours per week net of things like gas and fees. Theoretically, this driver should be able to make more money, but the issue is that he doesn’t always have a passenger in the car with him while he’s on duty.

“As a driver, you want to be 100 percent utilized,” he says. “You want a fare 100 percent of the time, but that doesn’t happen. So you have all this downtime, either spent driving around wasting gas, or just sitting around.”

This driver says his average utilization per hour is roughly 44 percent. So for every mile he drives per hour, only 44 percent those miles actually earn him money.

Uber has recently cut its prices in an attempt to increase demand, and therefore how often drivers are utilized. But that doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. We have reached out to Uber for comment on this story and it did not respond.

“I don’t think there’s an increase in demand,” that Dallas-based UberX driver says. “They’re doing price cuts because they’ve over-supplied the drivers. Because there are too many drivers on the road, Uber needs to lower pricing.”

Still, that’s not to say it’s outright impossible to make over $60,000 a year as a Dallas-based UberX driver, he says, but it would require driving more than 40 hours a week.

“I think from UberX drivers I’ve been in cars with a guy who drove 90 hours a week told me he makes around $78,000 per year,” he said.

In New York, one UberX driver who has been driving for about 11 months, tells us he doesn’t expect to make more than $50,000 this year, even though he works a little over 40 hours per week on average. 

“You can make $4,000 clean a month,” he said. “I mean, you make more than $5,000 but then you have to pay 20 percent to Uber, fees for your car, and gas.”

Even though Uber has said its low-cost drivers in New York could make up to $90,000 per year driving at least 40 hours per week, this driver isn’t too fazed by that because he’s still able to make a living off being solely an Uber driver.

“I don’t have any complaints,” he said. “I like the company, I’m happy.”

But the same cannot be said for other UberX drivers in New York. One driver, who works an average of 40 hours week, tells us that he only expects to take home $35,000 in “clean money” this year. “Clean money” is how Uber drivers explain their salaries after taking into account for things like gas fees, car payments, and of course, Uber’s 20 percent cut. “They say you could make up to $90,000, but nobody can drive 60 plus hours a week,” another UberX driver told us. “You’ll kill yourself.”

Megan Rose Dickey is a tech reporter for Business Insider. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 5:19 PM Washington’s Acting Roles
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 3:24 PM Why Innovators Hate MBAs
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.