Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor released a two-year report (pdf) on the working conditions of 40 Uber drivers in the Washington DC area. The top-level points:
Uber drivers don’t know how much they earn (or lose)
Regulators and researchers lack information on driver work conditions
33% of Uber drivers took on debt relating to the job
30% of drivers reported physical assaults or safety concerns
And yet, 50% of drivers would recommend it to a friend, and 45% planned to continue for at least six months
Uber’s take rate on rides improved to 21% in 2017 from 16% in 2016 “as a result of declining Driver incentives,” the company said in its S-1. It ticked up again, to 22% in 2018, on “increases to booking fees in select markets.”
In other words, Uber’s fare games have helped it improve margins, often at the expense of drivers. From the Georgetown report:
Of the 40 drivers in this study, 83% knew what percentage of their fares Uber took but 38% did not know how Uber determined the amount drivers took home on a single fare (whether, for instance, the booking fee is removed before or after Uber takes its commission), whether they were required to buy commercial insurance, or how tax filing worked at the end of the year. This varying degree of knowledge about compensation details could have been expected if the majority of drivers in our study were new to the Uber platform. But they were not. Seventy percent of the drivers in this study had worked on the Uber platform for at least seven months.
I linked to the PDF source in the link above.