Already vulnerable, gig economy workers in San Francisco suffer during coronavirus pandemic, survey reveals

A new survey of app-based ride-hailing and food and grocery- delivery workers in San Francisco underscores the financial vulnerability of workers in the gig economy — and the coronavirus COVID-19 has made their plight much worse, according to findings released on 5 May, by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The unique, in-person survey reached 643 workers with Uber, Lyft, Doordash, GrubHub, Instacart and Shipt early this year. The baseline survey reveals a workforce that is 56% percent immigrant, mostly male, and that struggles to make ends meet, with many relying on public assistance despite working an average of 40 hours per week. The survey has also mentioned the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, such as the drop in income, especially on the ride-hailing workers. Furthermore, workers are not typically able to access unemployment benefits, as app-based companies continue to classify their workers as independent contractors. Policy implications are discussed at the end of the article. Policymakers need to ensure that city and state employment laws are enforced, including minimum wage laws, and that ride-hailing and delivery workers have access to health insurance and unemployment benefits.

McNulty J., University of California (2020), ‘Already vulnerable, gig economy workers in San Francisco suffer during coronavirus pandemic, survey reveals’, 7 May.


  • Article
  • United States
  • Yes
  • no specific sector focus, transport
  • On-location platform-determined routine work
  • DoorDash, GrubHub, Instacart, Lyft, Shipt,  Uber
  • COVID-19, worker demographics
  • English
  • University of California
  • 2020
  • Open access
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