By Allison Carpenter / NM News Port
A study using data gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Google Maps and YouGov.com showed the ten worst states to drive Uber in. New Mexico secured the third spot behind Wisconsin and Oregon
The study used a combination of metrics: drivers’ earning potential, average journey fares, customer demand and living costs. The ten best states were also listed, with Minnesota taking the top spot.
However, there isn’t a huge gap between the top ten and the bottom ten states listed. In Minnesota, you may make five thousand dollars a year above minimum wage, but the majority of states are ranked between 5.6 New Jersey and 5.1 Maryland. Which means you’re going to be making about minimum wage and then deducting your gas and car expenses.
The study says the biggest difference in how well someone might do as an Uber earner depends on whether your state is overly saturated with drivers. This means the amount of competition is the biggest factor to a driver’s earnings, followed by the cost of living in your state.
Tony Robusto has been driving for Uber in the American Southwest ‘off and on’ for four years, including the entire summer of 2022.
“I drove for Uber eats, and running from a particular restaurant to a residential area to drop off food was never a short drive,” Robusto said. “Then, when I would look for more work, the other opportunity would be far away from me.”
“A regular day would mean about forty dollars of cash for every twenty dollars in gas expenses,” he said.
Stephen Owusu is a Ph.D. student and teacher in the Department of Economics at the University of New Mexico.
He wants us to “consider the mechanism.” If we agree that Minnesota is spread out and doesn’t have many public transportation options, then the demand for a service like Uber is incredibly high because there are limited alternatives.
In New Mexico, public transportation is unreliable, but options we have include the Road Runner, ART Bus and more. Which increases the competition Uber drivers face. While it may be bad for drivers, “It’s good for consumers,” said Owusu. The increased demand means that consumers have more options as to how they want to travel. Being able to see wait times is an option you don’t get with a taxi.
Owusu also brought up some other factors not mentioned in the study that could affect Uber drivers per state: public transport availability, prices of gas and car insurance, and the perceived safety of riding Uber in some places. Owusu said a friend of his will use Uber or Lyft in Las Cruces but won’t use it in Albuquerque because it is riskier. He says having more Ubers available may not be helpful if there’s a greater fear of riding with a stranger.
Robusto remains skeptical of making a living via Uber. While he didn’t have any insights into how the gig economy works on a state-by-state level, he did say his experience has left him sour.
“They game the system, I believe when you sign up as a driver,” he said. “I had a really good first day, then never made that much money again.”