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Driving Nerdy

A new study confirms that Uber is transforming driving from a working-class career to a side-job for educated freelancers

In the second season of HBO’s Togetherness, Mark Duplass plays a near caricature of an L.A. hipster dad. He is a disillusioned sound tech guy struggling to keep his marriage together. When he needs to fund his next career — as a playwright, of course — what does he do? He starts driving for Uber.

Turns out Togetherness wasn’t completely making things up when it comes to Uber drivers’ demographics. Thanks to a report recently released by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, we now have the most comprehensive window into who these drivers are and how they compare to traditional yellow cab drivers. Though taxi driving was long the domain of working class men and ethnic minorities, Uber has transformed the profile of the guys doing the job: most significantly, they’re way whiter and way more educated (with nearly half having an education beyond high school). And although men have long dominated the ranks of taxi drivers, more women are opting to become Uber drivers.

Uber drivers have more degrees than taxi drivers

Most drivers do not partner with Uber because they’re unqualified for other opportunities, according to the report. Unlike yellow cab drivers — 90 percent of whom work that job full time — Uber drivers are artists, entrepreneurs, academics or full-time freelancers. And they have the degrees to prove it.

They’re younger, too

That Uber drivers trend significantly younger than yellow cab drivers is a function of it’s app-based nature. Younger people are more likely to feel comfortable basing their whole careers around their phones. Hats off to the Uber marketing team for successfully selling the idea of being a driver to a younger generation.

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Uber drivers are slightly more likely to be women

The report does not provide specific answers as to why certain groups, including women, are more prevalent among Uber drivers than yellow cab drivers. It does however suggest that the flexible schedules set up by Uber’s app allows individuals seeking a more family-friendly lifestyle to work at their convenience.

Peter Kiefer is an L.A.-based writer. He previously wrote about Hillary Clinton’s male supporters for MEL.

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