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Should Uber Drivers Work During The Government Shutdown?

Should Uber Drivers Work During The Government Shutdown?

For many people, Uber is their main and/or their full time job. There are tens of thousands of drivers across the country who depend on Uber for their income. It is rather unfortunate that Uber can be seasonal and this time of year tends to be the slowest in many cities across the country due to reduced leisure and business travel around the new year. A lucrative New Years Eve on Uber usually helps driver for a few weeks while demand picks up in the second half of January until June when demand drops a due to summer travel and warmer weather.

For many Uber Drivers, they don’t have a choice in whether they drive or not. They depend on the income so they have to work every week to pay the bills. This article is mainly to address whether or not part time Uber drivers should go out and drive during these few weeks or months when the government is shutdown.

How Does The Government Shutdown Affect Uber Drivers?

First, Uber Drivers need to understand how the government shutdown affects Uber drivers. When the federal government is shut down, there is a decrease of people going to work, decreasing demand. Since federal offices are closed, there will be less people visiting these offices, further decreasing demand for Uber and Lyft. Some daytime Uber and Lyft rides can be attributed to people going to federal offices, so expect a decrease in both peak rush hour requests and also requests during the middle of the day.

Many federal workers are furloughed, which means they are not being paid whether or not they are actually working. These federal works still needs to pay their bills, so they may take a second job in order to get money to pay the bills to survive the government shutdown. Some will turn to Uber and Lyft for income to make ends meet. This will increase the number of drivers online, especially during daytime hours.

You may already have seen a decrease of requests and also an increase of drivers. This will mean much fewer rides for drivers over the next few weeks, especially during the weekdays.

Should Uber Drivers Work During The Government Shutdown?

For some Uber drivers, they do not have a choice and have to work in order to pay the bills. But I would recommend that part time drivers just stay home until the government shutdown is over. I have been hearing reports from drivers all across the country on how slow it is and how much their weekly income has decreased even from December. This is especially true in DC where most jobs are tied to the federal government somehow. I would avoid driving in DC unless you really depend on the income. Consider driving outside of DC or even as far as Baltimore.

I am not endorsing the shutdown nor am I arguing that drivers should stay home to help government workers earn more on Uber. Rideshare is a dog-eat-dog job so anything you can do to get a leg up on someone else is fair game. I am merely recommending drivers evaluate how much their earning and whether it is worthwhile for you to drive during the shutdown due to fewer trips and more drivers on the road. Yesterday, I have sat around for 45 minutes without a trip in the middle of Boston, which almost never happens at 2pm. There are just that many drivers out there right now and if you see that you’re not earning as much during the week, maybe reduce the number of weekday hours and focus on weekend hours.

I would recommend still working on Friday nights and the weekend, but try to avoid daytime hours since there will be a surplus of drivers. I have seen a noticeable drop in ride frequency last week in addition to much less traffic in the city and the airports.

When Uber Drivers Should Drive During the Government Shutdown?

I would recommend driving when others are not willing to drive. This would be either early mornings or late evenings. I tend to do best when there isn’t a lot of other drivers on the road. Many drivers still make a lot of money during the overnight hours because of less traffic and fewer drivers.

I would also recommend driving the very early mornings, taking a break during the middle of the day, and then driving again during the late afternoon into the evenings. I would try to avoid the work-day as much as possible since I have personally seen it being very quiet.

I would also recommend looking into alternative sharing economy jobs, such as deliveries. More people are home, so they may be ordering more from home. I have heard of a few reports of more available blocks at Amazon Flex, so this is something to consider. Typically, it is pretty slow in January but I have seen more available blocks over the past few days in Boston. I find that deliveries tend to be busier during the December – January since more people are home and don’t want to go out.

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