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Uber and the False Hopes of the Sharing Economy NYT 9 Aug 2018

Michael - Cleveland

Well-Known Member
Uber and the False Hopes of the Sharing Economy
New York Times, 9 Aug 2018 By Ginia Bellafante

While Uber promotes itself as a way for drivers to earn extra money to fund their dreams,
in truth, most drivers in New York City work full time. - Justin Lane/EPA

Not long ago arrived word of a new start-up, Wonderschool, which as its website explains, is a “network of boutique, in-home early childhood programs” — the Airbnb or Rover of preschool. Already established in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, with significant capital behind it, the venture aims to rescue talented teachers from the stingy hands of institutional employers, turning them instead into “edupreneurs.”

How many will be lured? The passage of extensive legislation by New York’s City Council on Wednesday, curtailing the previously unchecked powers of Uber and other ride-hailing services, suggests the extent to which the false promises of the sharing economy are becoming better understood and, how much more aggressively they still could be counteracted.

From the beginning, Uber appealed to drivers on the premise that partnering with the company would allow them to do what they really wanted to do, which was not ferrying 24-year-olds to beer halls or actuaries to the airport as a means of full-time employment.

A series of Uber ads that ran in conjunction with the Grammy Awards this year showed some of the artists nominated, in cars, with drivers who were singers and producers themselves. Other ads introduced us to drivers who were nursing students or aspiring businessmen — Uber could fund your creative and professional ambitions, or make it easier to go to Disney World or buy new appliances.

The reality though appears quite different. A study released last month from two economists, James A. Parrott and Michael Reich, indicated that in New York City, Uber’s largest domestic market, nearly two thirds of drivers who worked for ride-hailing services did so full time. They held no other jobs; approximately 80 percent bought cars for the purpose of making a living by driving them. Many were in debt from those acquisitions and making very little money.

Nine out of 10 drivers are immigrants and approximately 54 percent are responsible for providing more than half of their family incomes. Beyond that, the study found, the number of drivers for ride-hailing services grew 10 times faster than the rate of blue-collar employment, or employment in the city overall.

The gig, in effect, was the lifeline and the lifeline was insufficient. One of the bills passed by the Council is intended to ease the financial hardship of drivers for Uber, Lyft and other similar companies in a saturated market, where jobs for uneducated workers are hardly in abundance. A minimum wage of $17.22, after expenses, has been set, which would increase driver earnings by about 22.5 percent on average.

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[ Read the rest of the article HERE ]
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