For Emmanus Stephen, an Uber driver from Asbury Park, New Jersey, earning enough to pay the bills means strategizing carefully about where he will work each day.
Local, short-distance rides near his home on the Jersey Shore are convenient for him, but they don’t pay well — “You drive all day and you can make $100,” says the father of six.
So to pay the bills, he’ll often drive the 45 miles to Newark Liberty International Airport, where he can shuttle travelers on longer distance, more lucrative trips. He works all night to beat the New Jersey traffic, then heads home at 4 a.m., dropping his children off at school before getting some shuteye.
With Uber preparing for an IPO, the issue of whether gig economy workers like Stephen can earn a living wage is likely to reemerge. For publicly traded companies, the issue of social impact is a growing issue.
Many gig economy workers are part-timers doing freelance work on the side, to supplement paychecks from full-time jobs. There are 15.8-million independent workers who are full-timers, according to The State of Independence in America 2018 report by MBO Partners, which studies the freelance economy.