Source | LinkedIn : By Caroline Fairchild
Ricky, a 30-year-old Uber and Lyft driver who lives in Sacramento, has been driving for the two ride-sharing platforms for just over two years. Previously a kitchen and bathroom designer at Home Depot, Ricky quit working for the home improvement retailer for a pretty straightforward reason.
“[Driving for Uber and Lyft] is the only way I can make $1,000 in a week,” he told me recently on a ride in downtown San Francisco. “No other company in the world is going to offer me that.”
Ricky is a part of a growing segment of the economy that is using driving as a way to strive into a different income class than they were in before. With the birth of the gig economy and companies like Uber and Lyft, hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. have either quit their full-time jobs to drive or are now driving part-time to earn a little extra cash. In total, roughly 5 million people nationwide, or about 3% of the workforce, make their living driving taxis, buses, vans, trucks or their own cars.
“Uber and Lyft [are some] of the best companies to work for,” said Ricky. “I would suggest to every parent, if you think your kid is not that bright, if he’s not gonna make it up in school, don’t take a $15,000 student loan just for the sake of going to school. Buy him a $5,000 dollar car and put him at work. He’ll learn a lot of things on the street.”
Driving is an attractive profession for workers like Ricky because it doesn’t require a college degree and you can set your own hours. It can also be a buffer job in between other full-time gigs. But with some autonomous driving companies predicting that their technology could be on the open road as early as 2020, droves of drivers like Ricky could potentially be out of work in less than three years.