Median Hourly Profit for Uber, Lyft Drivers Is Just $3.37

The Uber logo is seen on mobile telephone in London

Uber and Lyft drivers make a median $3.37 an hour before taxes, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, less than the federal minimum wage.

"An individual driver can precisely observe his or her own operational revenue and costs, but does not know whether these are representative of other drivers or other vehicles".

The statistics are startling: almost three-quarters of drivers earn less than minimum wage; the median profit before taxes is $3.37/hour.

Median gross driver revenues are $0.59 per mile, the study found, but after expenses, median driver profit is only $0.29 per mile.

While most drivers employ vehicles for personal use and ride-hailing services, the bulk of the kilometers they drive are for work, which can lead to significant short-term and long-term costs, the paper said.

Uber could not be reached at time of writing, although earlier a spokesperson told The Guardian it reckoned the study's methodology and findings were "deeply flawed".

"Ride-hailing operators know what they pay each driver, but do not know whether drivers earn additional wages from a competitor nor what drivers actually spend to operate their vehicles", the researchers wrote.

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The Guardian obtained a response from Uber, which criticized the study's findings as false.

"At an average of $661/month in net profit per driver and with hundreds of thousands of drivers in the USA alone, the standard mileage deduction facilitates billions of dollars of untaxed income, and hundreds of millions of unrealized tax revenue", the paper notes.

According to MIT researchers, 80 percent of drivers said they work less than 40 hours per week. Allegations included misleading claims the company made in recruiting drivers, including how much they might expect to make.

Last year, the company shut down its U.S. auto leasing business after discovering it was losing 18 times more money per vehicle than it had previously understood.

The paper also received some scrutiny from Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy, an industry blog. And 30 percent of drivers lost money after expenses.

Uber counters that the MIT study doesn't accurately portray driver earnings. In addition, a little less than 30 percent of drivers were found to incur expenses that exceeded their earnings, causing them to be driving at a loss.

Uber and Lyft have significantly changed how people with money get around crowded cities.

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