Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Auto Availability Among Gig Workers

Research Lead: Jacob Wasserman

University: UCLA

Problem Statement: Many gig workers use personal vehicles for income, driving for ridehail or courier network services; some even purchase or lease autos in order to do such work. Before the pandemic, many of these workers bore a high burden of auto-related debt, and more likely do so now, just as they are effectively out of work.

Project Description: This research project will examine the economic vulnerabilities of gig workers during the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on automobile debt and spending. A white paper on the economic vulnerabilities of gig workers during the pandemic will analyze the scale of, and trends in, auto debt among workers in gig occupations, particularly where an independent contractor uses a personal vehicle or a vehicle for which they are financially responsible. The white paper will include a review of governmental and media sources for estimates of the pre-pandemic and during-pandemic activity volumes for each category of service; and an analysis of gig worker unemployment data under the new CARES Act benefits for independent contractors, if available from the state. The project may include data from New York City, Chicago, Toronto, and other locations that regularly report data from ridehail firms operating in their city.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $10,000