New Economy
Uber Drivers to California: We’re Entrepreneurs

On the heels of the California Labor Commission’s decision that drivers for the ride-sharing company Uber are employees rather than independent contractors, a new survey indicates that this is not, in fact, the way the majority of drivers see themselves. From Politico:

But before you assume that that would be a victory for the workers, there’s one other key thing to know: Drivers actually disagree with this. A new survey found that by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, workers in the sharing economy consider themselves independent contractors, not employees.

The data comes from SherpaShare, a company founded in 2014 that provides a platform for workers in the sharing economy to organize their expenses and better understand their earnings. (SherpaShare is independent of companies in the sharing economy.) The company’s survey queried 201 drivers, mostly for Uber and Lyft, explained the context of the legal debate, and asked whether the workers considered themselves independent contractors or employees. Sixty three percent considered themselves independent contractors while 35.5 percent considered themselves an employee.

If the data gathered are reliable, it strikes us as silly that the Labor Commission will seek protective policies for workers who do not desire them. As our economy shifts away from the traditional model of long-term, stable employment towards one of individual entrepreneurialism, we need policies that empower these enterprising workers, not shackle them with outmoded classifications.

It has become increasingly apparent that, as technological innovations continue to disrupt and (in many cases) improve our lot, our governmental institutions at best maintain the status quo, and at worst drag us back to the past. Smart policymakers will be keen to thwart this trend.

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