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A millennial with a disability thought becoming a Lyft driver would give her financial freedom. Seven years later, she’s struggling to make ends meet.<!-- wp:html --><p>Elizabeth said gig driving was one of her only options given her disability.</p> <p class="copyright">DuKai photographer</p> <p>A millennial with a disability said gig driving is one of the only options for her given her condition.Still, she's struggling to make $200 some weeks after accounting for taxes and maintenance expenses.While she values the flexibility, she's looking for a more stable option as her pay declines.</p> <p>Elizabeth thought driving for <a target="_blank" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-uber-drivers-make-full-time-gas-driving-tips-2023-11" rel="noopener">Lyft and Uber</a> would be her key to paying her bills and saving up for the future. But after seven years and thousands of miles driven, she's having trouble making ends meet.</p> <p>Elizabeth, who's in her mid-30s and works in the Southeast, said she first started gig work after suffering an injury that limited her work options. She told Business Insider she valued the flexibility of driving for <a target="_blank" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-uber-drivers-make-in-florida-lyft-gig-work-2023-11" rel="noopener">Lyft and Uber</a>, given she could take the day off if she was in pain.</p> <p>She still loves how she can take days off when she's not feeling up to driving. Though now, some weeks — which can vary between 15 to 40 hours given the limitations of her disability — she barely makes $200 a week over what she spends on her vehicle's maintenance and gas. She said she struggled to make her $400 car payment last month.</p> <p>"They don't pay us a living wage," said Elizabeth, who was given partial anonymity for fear of retribution for speaking out about her employer. "Basically the only reason I still drive for them is that I don't have many more options."</p> <p>Many younger Americans are increasingly leaving their 9-to-5 office jobs and looking to jobs like grocery delivery and digital freelancing, as the number of US gig workers<a target="_blank" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/gig-economy-trends-workers-delivery-ride-hailing-apps-uber-doordash-2023-7" rel="noopener"> more than doubled</a> during the pandemic.</p> <p>Forty-five percent of Gen Z and 44% of millennials are making $2,500 or more a month in gig work after considering expenses, compared to 36% of Gen X and 30% of boomers, a <a target="_blank" href="https://affiliate.insider.com/?h=c66feec0183805ce8aa7f5c90425759ce2dc4fd4e8c68aa95bf873cd27bdf92b&postID=6568fb9af1dbb59a6297eabb&postSlug=uber-lyft-driving-with-disability-gig-work-millennial-living-wage-2023-11&site=bi&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.transunion.com%2Freport%2Fus-gig-economy-report-q4-2023%3Futm_campaign%3Dpr%2Bgig%2Beconomy%2Breport%26utm_content%3Dlanding-page%26utm_medium%3Dpress-release%26utm_source%3Dpress-release" rel="noopener">TransUnion study of nearly 1,000 adults found</a>.</p> <p>Still,<a target="_blank" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/uber-lyft-drivers-explain-how-they-make-the-most-money-2023-9" rel="noopener"> many are debating</a> whether or not these jobs are sustainable enough or if they make sense only as side gigs. Some have taken more stable jobs as <a target="_blank" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-flex-app-jobs-wages-gig-work-full-time-2023-11" rel="noopener">bus drivers</a> or travel agents, while others have <a target="_blank" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-uber-lyft-drivers-make-freelance-shuttle-service-better-2023-11" rel="noopener">started their own freelance services</a>.</p> <p>For Elizabeth, who hasn't consistently been making above $2,500 each month, gig work isn't cutting it, but she said she's stuck since there are few other options in her small town.</p> <h2><strong>Just getting by</strong></h2> <p>For Elizabeth, the flexibility of choosing when to drive based on her disability has for years given her peace of mind. The opportunity to meet cool people, listen to their stories, and occasionally help them through difficult moments keeps her going, she said.</p> <p>"If I see somebody that's upset or scared or feeling any kind of negative emotion, I can just talk to them, figure out what's going on," she said.</p> <p>Still, she said this type of work has become increasingly unsustainable. <a target="_blank" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-uber-drivers-make-fulltime-cancelling-rides-gig-economy-2023-11" rel="noopener">Lyft and Uber</a> were taking around 25% of what she was paid per ride<em> </em>when she first started, she said, and she acknowledged she was making a reasonable amount. But over the years, she's noticed her paycheck dwindling for comparable amounts of work, as confirmed by screenshots shared with BI.</p> <p>A few years into driving, she said she was only getting 65% to 70% of earnings from each ride after the company changed its pay structure to paying drivers per mile and per minute. For Lyft, she said her rate card was 94 cents per mile and 14 cents per minute.</p> <p>But last year, she said her pay was slashed after the adoption of "upfront pay," which calculates the price per ride based on an algorithm. This has dropped her down to between 45% to 65% of fares per ride, screenshots of recent rides show.</p> <p>"The upfront amount on every single ride is severely lower than I should've gotten paid according to the rate card," she said. "On a lot of rides that I've taken, Lyft gets more money than I do."</p> <p>She said the number of rideshare drivers in her area <a target="_blank" href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-uber-lyft-drivers-make-per-ride-2023-10" rel="noopener">has skyrocketed</a> recently, which has made it more difficult for her to secure more rides.</p> <p>"They're clustered all around me, seven or eight of them just within a two-mile radius of me," Elizabeth said. "These companies don't put a cap on it. It interferes with every single driver's earnings because they're competing with all the other drivers, and when there's more drivers on the road, I make less money."</p> <h2><strong>Finding the energy to keep going</strong></h2> <p>Considering she said she's often only doing rides half the time she's online given her town is small and only seasonally busy, this reduction in her earnings have made it much more difficult for her to pay her bills.</p> <p>For instance, a few weeks ago, she was online for 21 hours and was only booked for 10 of those hours completing 30 rides. She made $345, though the passenger payments added up to $520, screenshots show.</p> <p>During the holidays, she said she ups her game, though the inconsistency of demand in her area means some weeks, she's struggling to break even. She said last Thanksgiving she made around $500 in one day — more than she makes in some weeks.</p> <p>What keeps her going, she said, is meeting new people and being a resource for them, which gives her a reason to continue driving as she tries to figure out a more stable income source.</p> <p>"I'm really good at reading people, and if I see somebody that's upset or scared or feeling any kind of negative emotion, I can just kind of talk to them and figure out what's going on," Elizabeth said. "I have a tendency to give people life advice or try to help them out of a bad situation."</p> <p><em>Are you a gig driver who is struggling to make ends meet or has transitioned to a new line of work? Reach out to this reporter at </em><a target="_blank" href="mailto:nsheidlower@insider.com" rel="noopener"><em>nsheidlower@businessinsider.com</em></a><em>.</em></p> <div class="read-original">Read the original article on <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/uber-lyft-driving-with-disability-gig-work-millennial-living-wage-2023-11">Business Insider</a></div><!-- /wp:html -->

Elizabeth said gig driving was one of her only options given her disability.

A millennial with a disability said gig driving is one of the only options for her given her condition.Still, she’s struggling to make $200 some weeks after accounting for taxes and maintenance expenses.While she values the flexibility, she’s looking for a more stable option as her pay declines.

Elizabeth thought driving for Lyft and Uber would be her key to paying her bills and saving up for the future. But after seven years and thousands of miles driven, she’s having trouble making ends meet.

Elizabeth, who’s in her mid-30s and works in the Southeast, said she first started gig work after suffering an injury that limited her work options. She told Business Insider she valued the flexibility of driving for Lyft and Uber, given she could take the day off if she was in pain.

She still loves how she can take days off when she’s not feeling up to driving. Though now, some weeks — which can vary between 15 to 40 hours given the limitations of her disability — she barely makes $200 a week over what she spends on her vehicle’s maintenance and gas. She said she struggled to make her $400 car payment last month.

“They don’t pay us a living wage,” said Elizabeth, who was given partial anonymity for fear of retribution for speaking out about her employer. “Basically the only reason I still drive for them is that I don’t have many more options.”

Many younger Americans are increasingly leaving their 9-to-5 office jobs and looking to jobs like grocery delivery and digital freelancing, as the number of US gig workers more than doubled during the pandemic.

Forty-five percent of Gen Z and 44% of millennials are making $2,500 or more a month in gig work after considering expenses, compared to 36% of Gen X and 30% of boomers, a TransUnion study of nearly 1,000 adults found.

Still, many are debating whether or not these jobs are sustainable enough or if they make sense only as side gigs. Some have taken more stable jobs as bus drivers or travel agents, while others have started their own freelance services.

For Elizabeth, who hasn’t consistently been making above $2,500 each month, gig work isn’t cutting it, but she said she’s stuck since there are few other options in her small town.

Just getting by

For Elizabeth, the flexibility of choosing when to drive based on her disability has for years given her peace of mind. The opportunity to meet cool people, listen to their stories, and occasionally help them through difficult moments keeps her going, she said.

“If I see somebody that’s upset or scared or feeling any kind of negative emotion, I can just talk to them, figure out what’s going on,” she said.

Still, she said this type of work has become increasingly unsustainable. Lyft and Uber were taking around 25% of what she was paid per ride when she first started, she said, and she acknowledged she was making a reasonable amount. But over the years, she’s noticed her paycheck dwindling for comparable amounts of work, as confirmed by screenshots shared with BI.

A few years into driving, she said she was only getting 65% to 70% of earnings from each ride after the company changed its pay structure to paying drivers per mile and per minute. For Lyft, she said her rate card was 94 cents per mile and 14 cents per minute.

But last year, she said her pay was slashed after the adoption of “upfront pay,” which calculates the price per ride based on an algorithm. This has dropped her down to between 45% to 65% of fares per ride, screenshots of recent rides show.

“The upfront amount on every single ride is severely lower than I should’ve gotten paid according to the rate card,” she said. “On a lot of rides that I’ve taken, Lyft gets more money than I do.”

She said the number of rideshare drivers in her area has skyrocketed recently, which has made it more difficult for her to secure more rides.

“They’re clustered all around me, seven or eight of them just within a two-mile radius of me,” Elizabeth said. “These companies don’t put a cap on it. It interferes with every single driver’s earnings because they’re competing with all the other drivers, and when there’s more drivers on the road, I make less money.”

Finding the energy to keep going

Considering she said she’s often only doing rides half the time she’s online given her town is small and only seasonally busy, this reduction in her earnings have made it much more difficult for her to pay her bills.

For instance, a few weeks ago, she was online for 21 hours and was only booked for 10 of those hours completing 30 rides. She made $345, though the passenger payments added up to $520, screenshots show.

During the holidays, she said she ups her game, though the inconsistency of demand in her area means some weeks, she’s struggling to break even. She said last Thanksgiving she made around $500 in one day — more than she makes in some weeks.

What keeps her going, she said, is meeting new people and being a resource for them, which gives her a reason to continue driving as she tries to figure out a more stable income source.

“I’m really good at reading people, and if I see somebody that’s upset or scared or feeling any kind of negative emotion, I can just kind of talk to them and figure out what’s going on,” Elizabeth said. “I have a tendency to give people life advice or try to help them out of a bad situation.”

Are you a gig driver who is struggling to make ends meet or has transitioned to a new line of work? Reach out to this reporter at nsheidlower@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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