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Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc said U.S. drivers on their ride-hail platforms were earning significantly more than before the pandemic as trip demand outstrips driver supply, prompting the companies to offer extra incentives.
Uber on Wednesday said it would invest an additional $250 million to further boost driver earnings and offer payment guarantees in an effort to incentivize new and existing drivers.
Dennis Cinelli, Uber’s vice president of U.S. & Canada mobility, in a blog post told drivers to take advantage of higher earnings before pay returns to pre-COVID-19 levels as more drivers return to the platform.
Uber said drivers spending 20 hours online per week in many cities were seeing median hourly earnings around 25 percent to 75 percent higher than pre-pandemic, making around $31 in Philadelphia and close to $29 in Chicago. Those earnings are after Uber’s fee but before customer tips and expenses, which drivers are responsible for as independent contractors.
Lyft on Tuesday said drivers in the company’s top-25 markets were earning an average of $36 per hour compared with $20 per hour pre-pandemic. Those numbers include tips, but Lyft did not disclose the share of tips in earnings. Lyft is also offering additional incentives and promotions in select markets.
The uptick in demand comes as more U.S. states lift lockdown restrictions implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination rates increase and a growing number of Americans start moving again.
But ride-hail drivers, many of whom stopped driving during the height of the pandemic over safety concerns and amid sluggish demand, have been slow to return to the road.
Uber and Lyft executives have told investors driver supply was a concern going into the second half of the year, when demand is expected to ramp up further. Lyft said investments to boost driver supply will create first-quarter revenue headwind of $10 million to $20 million.