Uber, like other gig economy companies, has positioned its drivers as entrepreneurs–in this case “transportation entrepreneurs“–who run their own small businesses on their own schedules. Its executives have even argued that its gigs provide a solution to underemployment and wage stagnation.
Internally, however, the company considered the jobs it enables to be comparable to those of a fast food restaurant.
According to the New York Times, an Uber internal slide deck about driver income levels pointed out Lyft and McDonald’s as Uber’s main competition for attracting drivers.
Uber did not respond to a request for comment.
A BuzzFeed investigation in 2016 estimated that Uber drivers in Denver earn $13.17 per hour after expenses, Uber drivers in Houston earn $10.75 per hour after expenses, and Uber drivers in Detroit earn $8.77 per hour. An Uber report later that year said an average driver earns $18.75 an hour, before expenses.
In 2015, McDonalds raised its starting pay to $1 above the local minimum wage. It said at that time that average starting wages at its restaurants would be $10 per hour. The policy only applied to McDonalds-owned restaurants, not its franchises.