Over the past 12 months, Uber’s business has dropped by 80 percent. With the pandemic, many drivers decided they did not want to risk contracting or spreading COVID-19. Now, however, Uber is facing a driver shortage as passenger demand is increasing across the country. With more than a quarter of the U.S. population vaccinated, Uber is looking for ways to incentivize drivers to return.
On March 7, 2021, Uber announced the launch of a $250 million driver stimulus with the goal of welcoming drivers back and recruiting new ones. Both returning and new drivers will be eligible for bonuses over the coming months.
According to Uber’s blog, “In 2020, many drivers stopped driving because they couldn’t count on getting enough trips to make it worth their time. In 2021, there are more riders requesting trips than there are drivers available to give them – making it a great time to be a driver.”
With the demand being as high as it is, the current median hourly rate for cities like Philadelphia and Chicago is $26.66, which is 25% to 75% higher than in March 2020. Uber is asking drivers to consider taking advantage of the higher earnings, as it is likely a “temporary situation” because more gig workers will return to their previous jobs as the country recovers.
An Uber spokesperson said the stimulus money will go on top of the hourly rates. The incentive amount will be based on individual activity and location: “We will have more guarantees coming in [Austin and Phoenix] as well as all the other markets we are targeting in the U.S. – the dollar and trip amount may just change slightly depending on local factors.”
In addition to the money going to returning drivers, money will also go toward guaranteed minimum pay and on-boarding for new drivers. The company is also looking o streamline the process of getting drivers vaccinated with an in-app booking portal with its partnership with Walgreens.”
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