May 14, 2024 - News

Massachusetts' reliance on the gig economy grows

Illustration of a take out box with wheels on it.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As voters prepare to decide whether gig economy workers should be considered employees or independent contractors, a new study shows just how addicted to deliveries and rides Bay Staters really are.

Why it matters: Massachusetts is reevaluating its relationship to gig economy companies like Uber, Lyft and Instacart, but the impact app-based services have had on consumers' way of life is undeniable.

  • There were 144.3 million rides and deliveries in Massachusetts in 2023, a 70% increase over the pandemic year of 2021, according to data provided by the companies and analyzed by BW Research Partnership.
  • Ride-hailing apps accounted for nearly 80 million rides in 2023, more than double the 2021 number.

What they found: 85.3% of the rides and deliveries came from greater Boston.

  • The Worcester and Springfield areas each had about 6 million combined rides and deliveries.
  • The number of merchant accounts on delivery platforms went up 29% between 2021 and 2023 and revenue jumped 44%.

What we're watching: The future of many gig economy workers in Massachusetts is in the hands of a jury in Suffolk Superior Court, where Uber and Lyft are on trial for allegedly breaking state labor laws by treating drivers as contractors instead of employees entitled to the minimum wage and benefits.

What's next: Whether gig economy companies can continue to utilize drivers as contractors will ultimately be up to voters in November when a ballot question will ask them to reshape labor laws to allow for independent contractors entitled to some, but not all, of the typical worker benefits.


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