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Economy

Conversations With D.C. Uber Drivers Reveal Stress and Debt

A new report from Georgetown University reveals wage and other challenges faced by Uber drivers in Washington, D.C., yet many say they plan to keep driving.
Uber drivers in Washington, D.C., cite stress and debt in their work for the app.
Uber drivers in Washington, D.C., cite stress and debt in their work for the app.Carlos Jasso/Reuters

In 2016, a group of 40 Washington, D.C., Uber drivers sat down with Georgetown researchers to offer a window into life on the road. Many of them said that they were spiraling into debt; that their wages were constantly fluctuating, often with little notice; that the job threatened their mental and physical health—and that, if given the option, they would keep right on driving.

A report released today, out of Georgetown’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, includes excerpts of those conversations and findings from surveys taken by the drivers, whose names were changed to protect their identities and their jobs. The report offers only an anecdotal snapshot from a small sample size of drivers, taken during Uber’s earlier days. In the years since the interviews were conducted, the company has hired a new CEO, introduced tipping, and rolled out new driver-friendly promotions and incentives, like an Uber Pro rewards program in 10 cities, and free online education benefits.