How Much Do People Actually Make From "Gigs" Like Uber And Airbnb


Coined shortly after the financial crisis in 2009, the so-called “gig economy” or “sharing economy” refers to the growing cadre of companies like Airbnb, Lyft, and TaskRabbit—platforms that employ temporary workers who provide a wide variety of services: delivery, ridesharing, rentals, and odd jobs. A recent Pew study estimated that nearly a quarter of all Americans earn some money through these platforms.

But how much money are the service providers in the sharing economy actually making from their "side-gigs"?

We analyzed anonymized data from Priceonomics customer Earnest, a loan provider, and examined tens of thousands of loan applicants to see how much people are earning on side-gig platforms and how these platforms stack up against each other.

We looked at a span of data accounting for just over two years, and for each worker, we analyzed a pay period of between one and 27 months. We do not know how many hours of work the income represents for each platform, as each one has a unique pricing and commission structure. 

Furthermore, this data is just reflective of the Earnest user base, who are typically refinancing college loans and therefore may be more likely to be treating these services as a “side-gig” than the typical service provider who may be more likely to treat it as a fulltime job and have different earning levels.

We found that 85% of side-gig workers make less than $500 a month. And of all the side-gig platforms we examined, Airbnb hosts earn the most by far.

In our data, on all but Lyft and Uber, we excluded any worker who made a total $10 or less from a platform to eliminate data points that could simply represent a refund from the company. For Lyft and Uber, we excluded anyone with a total income of $50 or less. Then we tallied the average monthly incomes made by workers at each company.

Data source: Earnest

Making an average of $924 off their platform each month, Airbnb hosts make nearly three times as much as other workers. Workers at the general task-service platform, TaskRabbit, rank second at $380 per month. Overall, Lyft and Uber drivers make roughly the same average per month at $377 and $364 respectively. We also observed that nearly a quarter of Lyft drivers also earned income from Uber—and of that subset, we saw that the average income was actually higher for Uber ($481 vs $396.)

Of course, on all of these platforms, there is a wide range of earners. Several Airbnb hosts in our records, for instance, made over $10,000 per month, while others made less than $200.

To really understand these averages above, we took a deeper look at these ranges. Below, we’ve charted out the income distribution for each company. The figures represent the percentage of workers who fall into each month income bracket.

Data source: Earnest

Airbnb hosts enjoy the highest average monthly earnings because there is a much wider range of income distribution on that platform than at other companies: Nearly half of all hosts make more than $500 per month.

Conversely, the majority of workers at some other companies (Etsy, Uber, Fiverr) fall into the $100 or under per month bracket.

Tallying all of these companies up, the overall distribution tilts strongly toward the lower end.

Data source: Earnest

Some 84% of all gig economy workers make less than $500 per month—but in particular, workers at Getaround (98.3% under $500 per month), Fiverr (96.3%), and Etsy (95%) have especially high percentages of low-earners.

Reasons for the low income could vary—some workers may be simply trying the platform, or put in very few hours.

Lyft, Taskrabbit, and Airbnb seem to beat this “84% under $500” average.

Data source: Earnest

It might be easy to look at this data and assume that gig economy workers are working at below market rates. After all, $500 per month is hardly a livable wage. For the industry, the key question is how many of these workers are utilizing these platforms to make a little extra cash as a side-gig versus trying to forage a full-time living.


philipat AllOfGood Sat, 06/17/2017 - 19:59 Permalink

Shouldn't this analysis also take into account operating costs (depereciation, gas, maintenance etc) and ROI? If you own a $5Million apartment on the Upper East Side (and have another place to live!) earning $10K/Month renting via Airbnb should be easy but the ROI would still be shit, even before the cost of utilities, property taxes and maintenance. And in the case of Airbnb, they are constantly trying to push prices down by "advising" owners that they would generate more rentals by halving the price and comparing said $5 Million apartment with other shitty properties in less attractive locations which rent at half the price.For Airbnb, this may work so long as there is capital appreciation but when the property market crashes, again, it won't.

In reply to by AllOfGood

Canary Paint idontcare Sat, 06/17/2017 - 07:56 Permalink

There have been problems and abuses. Just poke around a little.Yet that it continues to work so well throughout the world is, I think, a sort of confirmation that most people just want to go about the business of making a living.We should look first at institutional manipulation of the population whenever we see natural divisions within a society like race, religion, economic class, or political party becoming "weaponized."

In reply to by idontcare

Laowei Gweilo garypaul Fri, 06/16/2017 - 22:49 Permalink

depends on demandI know multiple people in Vancouver that run as their full-time job over 20 Airbnbs.... one has nearly 50. She just rents apartments and doesn't even tell the landlord usually (it's against almost every strata rule in VAN except for a few buildings anyhow and against municipal bylaws too so there are no 'legit' hosts). they're probably among the top 100 highest paid people downtown van lol it's probably why average RENT in Vancouver is even crazier relative to Toronto than ownership. avg. TO  2 bedroom is like $2300... in VAN ints $3150. average.

In reply to by garypaul

Endgame Napoleon Laowei Gweilo Sat, 06/17/2017 - 10:33 Permalink

That is good. But they had a lot of money to start with. You cannot host someone in your property without being a property owner. We have an underemployed population of people with limited property, many of whom need enough money to cover all bills, including rent, unless they have unearned income from spouses, exes, parents or a combo of welfare / taxfare for sex and reproduction while single.

This a good article and reports accurately on the amount that people earn from gigs. They used to call it "piecework" in the Industrial Age. Women often did piecework from home for sweatshop factories, producing an absolute ton before even getting up to the equivalent amounts that Tyler described.

Like low-wage jobs in general, some piecework is more expensive for the employee than other piecework. Uber is likely a great convenience and a money saver for our globetrotting, two high-earner, busy-working parent couples, each paid $10,000/month or more.

The highly paid can save on taxi and airport parking fees when attending corporate or government agency conventions with clown or Chippendale dancer entertainment.

They can also save on transportation when facilitating the offshoring of millions of American jobs, traveling around the globe to set up deals to employ low-cost labor in other countries and, thereby, draining their country of jobs and the SS fund of contributors. They are helping to destroy the middle class via their globetrotting careers, but if it is done in the name of kids and family, it is above criticism, even though few people are even bothering to raise their own kids anymore. Grandma or $9/hr nannies and NannyCams raise their kids.

This alternative taxi service also might be affordable for low-income people who are trying to ditch the expense of a car, although probably not given the low amount of pay they get and the huge percentage of it going into rent.

Things like Etsy are not the same thing. They are a way for hobbyists to make some pocket money off of their avocation. Having owned an art-related, brick-and-mortar shop, paying shop and apartment rent, a business loan, operating expenses, all of our other expenses and twice-as-high SS taxes, I can see why they do it.

Most art-related businesses have stiff competition, all courting a tiny, affluent, niche market. We had 5 other shops in a little, dinky, country town. And only 8% of people in the whole country used this particular service, far less in that town. But we were able to pay all of that every month that we were in business, whereas I could not even finance rent in a low-cost housing area with the average sales described from a craft site.

Those sites are mostly set up by people whose living is acquired via other means: a spouse, an ex, welfare/taxfare, retirement income or maybe a trust fund in some cases. Unfortunately, jobs, in general, court this same crowd, staffing many (most) positions with people who do not need to make a living from their job due to unearned income streams.

These craft sites, at least, do not involve much money to make money. There is no wear-and-tear on your car. You do not have to pay the state recurring licensing and testing fees to maintain licenses in a field frequently staffed by absentee and unlicensed moms who can work for between $9 -- $11/hr due to income from a spouse, a child support check that covers rent or the array of freebies from Uncle Sam and the U.S. Treasury for those with productive wombs who pursue the out-of-wedlock reproduction career path.

That is much more lucrative than any of these gig careers, yielding free rent, free food and Child Tax Credits that peek at $6,269. It is likewise a creative endeavor. Having sexual intercourse and creating kids without marrying their father(s) is much more lucrative than most of these art-related and other gigs.

Even just the tax-time cash for the max Child Tax Credit is 12 times more than the average site generates in income, not counting the free food and free rent OR the rent with an amount off per live birth in a mixed-income unit that is in a safer, nicer area of the city than most college grads can afford. You also have your monthly cash assistance, which for a momma of 2 is about 2/3rds of what the average site makes. Add on your energy and daycare assistance, reducing those expenses to almost nothing.

Most mommas have money coming in from a boyfriend that is untraceable and grandbaby-fever grandparents too, covering things like a car note or extras, with a few cleaning up on all of the many charity valves for "working families."

Get a bully-momma clique job in a corporate back office, a government office or a call center, where as a fellow, backscratching momma, you can come in 45 minutes late, leave at 2:30 every day and take days and weeks off, with the momma manager condoning it for fellow moms, as she needs to take off for baby travel soccer and getaways for busy-working parents. Do not even be 5 minutes late when sitting in the same clogged school traffic momma sits in if nothing exited your birth canal, not even if you come to work every day, stay all day and meet the quotas every month, outselling the absentee mommas and servicing their accounts to retain the business during their protracted absences. These are backscratching, crony arrangements.

There are also many jobs with small employers, looking for mommas with unearned income who can afford to work for rock-bottom pay, mostly from a spouse in that case. Many of these are mom-and-pop type operations, with the momma owners preferring the unearned income that supports their employees to come from the spouse of a married, female employee or from Social Security. Why? Because, the momma or the gramdmomma will work with her husband alone when she takes off a ton for baby or for other things, using baby as the excuse.

If you are unmarried, the bully-momma clique jobs are better and staff at between 95% to 100% mommas, with a few exceptions, here and there, mostly a couple of licensed signers for compliance purposes. You will also have the sadistic pleasure of bullying out people who are not in the momma clique, in addition lots of FUN in the following workplace activities:

1) Baby-mommy-look-alike-bulletin-board-decorating contests

2) Halloween dress-up days with kid-parent dress-up pic email

3) Mommy cubicle Easter egg hunt with candy prizes and prizes with a baby-mommy theme

4) Tacky Christmas sweater contests

5) Spin-the-wheel contests with candy prizes

6) Family Day Picnics

7) Etc. Etc. Etc.

As a career momma, you will have more money from a job, as opposed to a gig, while still remaining below the income limits for welfare / taxfare.

Now, if nothing exited your birth canal, and these so-called jobs need to cover a full range of household bills, you're in trouble. And you're not going to be the one that crony connections recommend for the flextime-momma management job, either. Even if that person has a huge spousal income, she "needs" the money for baby. They are going to recommend the temp, part-time, churn gigs for you, hyping it up to make it sound like you could make six figures ------ SIX FIGURES ------ if you were as good as so-in-so in Nebraska.

Hell, everyone who survives in a brick-and-mortar business HAS to generate that much, but only gets to keep a third due to taxes and other things. We're talking about less than enough to cover apartment rent and nothing else with these gig self-employment opportunities. And your SS taxes are still twice as high, a little over 15%, while welfare/taxfare momma who pays zero for her means-tested assistance and zero income taxes, despite her $6,269 Child Tax Credit, pays only a little over 7.5% in SS tax.

The gig that pays is sex and reproduction.

In reply to by Laowei Gweilo

OneLessZombie Normalcy Bias Sat, 06/17/2017 - 09:41 Permalink

Any person who can do simple math doesn't have to drive Uber/Lyft to figure out they make exactly ZERO and in fact take tax losses.  The article is WRONG.  "Make" in the article is gross receipts not TAXABLE INCOME.  ding ding dingFinancial desperation is not a business plan.  The system here has bred this ignorant desperation and has put people in impossible situations. Most of these businesses should be outlawed.  They are operating illegally, and the states turn the typical blind eye to manipulation of workers.

In reply to by Normalcy Bias

armageddon addahere OneLessZombie Sun, 06/18/2017 - 17:35 Permalink

Unfortunately financial desperation is a business plan. Years ago I delivered phone books for Yellow Pages on a similar deal. When I figured out my expenses and what I made per hour it was less than minimum wage. And I had to provide my own car and pay for gas. Other drivers thought they were making money but never deducted their expenses or broke it down on a per hour basis. Businesses have gone on for years exploiting the financial ignorance and bad math skills of the poor.

In reply to by OneLessZombie

Killdo Creative_Destruct Fri, 06/16/2017 - 23:54 Permalink

Lyft charges 25% just for the app - that's all tehy provide, no benefits, no hoidays, nothing else. Drivers pay if there is a flat tire to fix etc. They also pay I think 1500 deductable for any damage on teh car. Lyft takes 25% before any other charges. Once you take other charges like gas into the account -their share is about 35-40%. It's realy more liek feudalism than sharing. Drivers shoudl have their own app and keep the profit. 

In reply to by Creative_Destruct

gatorengineer Normalcy Bias Sat, 06/17/2017 - 08:22 Permalink

Anyone who thinks hotels are hurting is F'ed up..... I travel 80 percent of the time its near impossible to find anything for less than 100 a night blus 20% taxes.... That being said these hotels are usually less than half full....  So there is a ton of room for hotels to drop prices and increase occupancy...  In the CT area, air bnb is alot more expensive than even these hotels

In reply to by Normalcy Bias

JMT garypaul Sat, 06/17/2017 - 11:26 Permalink

No because like with most retail catergories there is such 'overwhemlng demand'.  simply like with electronics, designer clothing, smartphones there is simply NOT ENOUGH SUPPLY to meet current demand.  That is why actual inflation is much more than reported inflation..  That is why most items (especially designer clothing, & electronics) have seen parabolic price increases lately. I am using an anology but any type of vacation these days will cost at least in the five figures.  

In reply to by garypaul

Jon Bong Jovi Still Losing Money Sat, 06/17/2017 - 18:03 Permalink

Not really, you can start by renting a room in your current apartment/house and work your way up from there. The whole reason I got into airbnb was because my wife's friend who is a single mom living in a 3 br basically covered her mortgage, insurance, and property tax from renting out one dinky room. So I said, fuck, if this dumb as shit soccer mom can do I did my due diligence. Joined forums, learned a few things, started with one unit, now up to four. About to do another four this year. 

In reply to by Still Losing Money

kolanu Xena fobe Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:33 Permalink

The last hotel I stayed in a bus turned the wrong way then reversed in slow motion for 10 minutes with their backup beeper blaring right in front of all the rooms... at 3 am.  That kind of wrecked a good night sleep for the entire hotel.  I think I would have rather stayed in someone's house that night.

In reply to by Xena fobe

Jon Bong Jovi Xena fobe Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:52 Permalink

I get a lot of business travellers coming for conventions. So it might be a group of academics for a marine biology convention or an attorney coming for a convention and want to drag his wife and kids along. I sometimes get a one-off business traveller who might stay for a week, but rarely do I get that one night guest. The cleaning fee I charge ($75/stay) doesn't make it economical. My nightly rate is around $180 + $75 cleaning fee + taxes and fees.There's also a security deposit so if you fuck the place up, yeah I dock you. But most of my cups and glasses are dirt fuckin' cheap anyway so I let things like that slide. Last Courtyard Marriott I stayed in, the guest next door was a prositute running incalls, so a barking dog isn't so bad. 

In reply to by Xena fobe

thenameismendy Normalcy Bias Sat, 06/17/2017 - 13:38 Permalink

Costs with AirBnB are lower than say UBER. What the article does not address are the variable costs that go into each revenue event - gas and car wear and tear. I assume drivers using their own vehicles eat their own expenses. They don't get reimbursed by the company. And what about the fixed costs? Do drivers get commercial vehicle insurance? Does UBER require commercial vehicle insurance before contracting with a driver? Once you classify your car as a commercial delivery vehicle your premiums go WAY up. How does this all this affect driver income?

In reply to by Normalcy Bias

Bradmajors Fri, 06/16/2017 - 21:41 Permalink

These are falsely labeled as "income" numbers.  They are actually "revenue" numbers.  Actual "income/earnings" are much less after expenses are deducted. 

LetThemEatRand Fri, 06/16/2017 - 21:43 Permalink

This is a meaningless set of statistics given that the article discusses gross and not net income.  To make money with Airbnb, one needs to own a residence and furniture, plus insurance if there is a mortgage involved, plus property taxes.  So $900/month is probably not breaking even on a net basis.  I don't know this for a fact, but my gut tells me most Uber drivers make money by driving a car their parents bought them, meaning they have no overhead and thus pure profit.