Aug 2, 2022 - Economy

Uber hits record number of drivers and couriers amid elevated inflation

Illustration of an Uber route in the shape of an upward market trend line

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Drivers have been flocking to Uber despite high gas prices, the company's second quarter earnings report shows.

Driving the news: The number of Uber drivers and delivery earners reached a record last quarter — of nearly 5 million, up 31% from last year — the company reported this morning.

  • New driver sign-ups surged 76%, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told analysts.

Quick take: The need to make extra income to counteract overall record inflation appears to outweigh the expenses associated with being able to earn that extra income.

  • Over 70% of drivers added in the quarter cited the higher cost of living as a reason for joining.

What they're saying: "No one wishes for a tough economic environment or elevated inflation that's affecting so many of us, including Uber drivers," Khosrowshahi said.

  • "At the same time, from a competitive standpoint, there's no question that this operating environment is stronger for us."

The big picture: Demand for out-of-home experiences has never been higher — offering more opportunity for drivers to earn.

  • Trips given grew 24% from last year to 1.9 billion.
  • Monthly active customers on Uber's platform grew 21% to 122 million.

Earnings through Uber's platform has grown even faster:

  • Driver and delivery worker earnings grew 37% to $10.8 billion in aggregate —with drivers making $37 per utilized hour, and those who did both earning about $30 an hour, Khosrowshahi noted.
  • For context: the average base salary for a truck driver is about $37 an hour, according to Indeed.

Be smart: Americans on the lower end of the income scale spent about 8% of their after-tax income on gas in 2019.

  • At the top end, that drops to about 2%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest data shows.

Yes, but: Record gas prices have started to recede.

  • The U.S. average is under $4.24 a gallon this week — down from an all-time high of $5.02 in early June, according to GasBuddy.

What we're watching: Ride-share competitor Lyft reports earnings Thursday after markets close.

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