Is rideshare on the rebound? Uber says “yes” but what about driver earnings?

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Rideshare has already shown signs of a comeback this year. There are more people requesting rides, and the companies are doing everything they can to give drivers incentives to come back. This Gridwise post gives you more information about the commitments companies such as Uber and Lyft have made to driver incentives.

Now, as economies in many states (even some of the stricter ones like California and Pennsylvania) begin to fully open over the next few weeks, we can expect rideshare requests to continue to rise. According to this article on Investopedia, Uber says that ride requests reached an all-time high in the first quarter. 

While the distribution between rideshare requests and delivery requests isn’t mentioned in the article, the fact that there is an all-time high in bookings tells us that rideshare must be on the road to recovery. So, what about driver earnings?

At Gridwise, we keep our finger on the pulse of driver earnings, measuring the health of the business from the perspective of rideshare drivers. In this post, we’ll examine just how well drivers are doing, and whether the increase in rideshare revenues indicates that the comeback we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What Uber says about increasing passenger demand
  • Is this the real comeback? Can drivers (and customers) feel safe?
  • Rideshare driver earnings: What are they like now?
  • How long will driver incentives last?

What Uber says about increasing passenger demand

Uber’s report on earnings in the first quarter of 2021 highlighted the success of its delivery business, and stated (slightly subtly) that rideshare was coming back.

Whether Uber passenger demand is or isn’t up might be difficult to quantify by the earnings figures that were recently presented, but the company’s actions certainly seem to support that idea. Uber has put $250 million into driver incentives across the country. 

In an April 7, 2021 blog post, Uber stated that this plan was put into effect to bring drivers back to work. Uber implied that drivers were not coming back to work because, with the reduced demand for rideshare, driving for Uber wasn’t worth the smaller amounts of money they were making.

This is undoubtedly true, but is money the only reason rideshare drivers have hesitated to go back to their normal activity? Or do other factors come into play?

Is this the real comeback? Can drivers (and customers) feel safe?

The world went into a state of shock when COVID-19 prompted governments to shut down economic activity. Rideshare drivers were among those who suffered the most. To address the sudden loss of income, some shifted to delivering food, and others were able to get unemployment compensation, and some drivers migrated to different ways of making money during a pandemic.

As more drivers and customers are vaccinated, and the safety measures such as mandatory mask-wearing in rideshare vehicles remain in place, drivers may feel safe enough to return to work. More customers are returning, too, particularly because many still prefer rideshare to the subway, commuter train, or bus. And yes, the incentives Uber is offering are likely to sweeten the pot enough to help make drivers feel more optimistic about their prospects.

So how much are drivers making now, anyway? Let’s look at some numbers.

Rideshare driver earnings: What are they like now?

Uber sends out almost daily notices through the driver app, showing drivers how much there is to be made if they go out to drive in their particular cities. In the April blog post referenced earlier, Uber said that drivers were making as much as $37.44 per hour in New York City, $30.45 in Chicago, and $32.60 in Tampa Bay. 

The Gridwise numbers, which represent the median earnings across the United States, are also pretty impressive. Driver per-hour earnings, as you can see from the graph below, were around $25 per hour as of May 20, 2021.

Earnings per trip also climbed steadily through the first five months of 2021. As of May 20, 2021, earnings per trip across the country averaged $15.77. That represents a 57% rise over January 2020’s earnings per trip figure of $10.07.

From both sets of numbers, we can absolutely conclude that driver earnings are up. This leads us to the next question: Can drivers depend on earnings remaining this high?

How long will driver incentives last?

It appears that driver incentives are having a positive effect on driver earnings, but we suspect there are other contributing factors, like increased customer demand boosting driver earnings.

To explain our reasoning, we’ll start by looking at the figures for driver supply. 

As you can see from the following graph, by the end of April 2021 the supply of drivers was only 11.21% off the pre-pandemic figure. This tells us that the incentives are working in two ways: by allowing drivers to earn more, and by successfully enticing those who were off work to return to driving.

While driver incentives remain high at the moment, it’s hard to say if they will continue as driver supply begins to return to pre-pandemic levels. For drivers, it makes sense to take advantage of the incentives now while you can. 

Uber is offering new drivers across the country a $250 bonus for completing just 10 rides, so if you’re not a Uber driver currently, now is the time to join!

With the increased sense of safety one may feel now, plus the broadening public policy of reopening economies around the country, Uber’s rideshare business is looking great for drivers.

Know your earnings

The very best way to find out for yourself that rideshare is on the rebound is for you (when you feel safe) to go out there and drive! When you do, be sure to log on to Gridwise before every shift. Once you sync your driving apps, all your earnings and mileage are logged without you having to do anything else. You can also enter your expenses, and when you’re done, see how much you’re really making on slick graphs like these:

Gridwise keeps you in the know about other re-emerging sources of business, like airport activity and events in your area. Weather and traffic alerts round out the driving features of this awesome, go-to app.

What’s more, you can get discounts and deals for drivers on the Perks tab, and receive alerts that keep you up to date with news from our blog and YouTube channel.

Join us on Facebook to be part of a community of high-earning drivers, and get in on our gas card giveaways. Gridwise is the ultimate assistant for rideshare and delivery drivers, and you won’t want to go to work without yours! Download the app now!

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