At various points, Uber has claimed its drivers can make up to $90,000 a year or $17 an hour, Vanity Fair reports. Tech Times heard $19 an hour. But, according to numbers crunched by BuzzFeed, Uber drivers—on average, in at least three markets—are making far less than that. BuzzFeed worked with the ride-share company to come up with wage estimates in three US cities, looking at more than a million rides given by thousands of drivers over a period of two to eight weeks in late 2015. It discovered that, after expenses, drivers in Denver earned an average of $13.17 per hour. The average hourly wages for drivers in Houston and Detroit were $10.75 and $8.77 respectively. Those averages are before taxes but after Uber takes its cut of fares.
Uber says it doesn't know how much its drivers make after expenses, and that the numbers arrived at by BuzzFeed are just rough estimates. For example, Uber's data doesn't include actual expenses for each driver, leaving BuzzFeed to assume them. BuzzFeed calculated average wages based on a $16,000 car, $1.75 per gallon gas, 25 miles per gallon fuel efficiency, and so forth. An Uber spokesperson says the numbers could be further skewed by drivers logged into the app but not actively picking up passengers. Still, signs point to Uber not being the best option for achieving financial independence. The average wages calculated by BuzzFeed came before Uber reduced fares in 100 cities last January. And drivers get no benefits, such as health care. Uber discourages drivers from comparing fare estimates to the minimum wage. (Read more Uber stories.)