More than 27,000 Uber and Lyft drivers received a combined $80 million from the US government to help them get through the pandemic, according to a new report

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More than 27,000 Uber and Lyft drivers received a combined $80 million from the US government to help them get through the pandemic, according to a new report
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.Riccardo Savi/Getty Images
  • 27,000 Uber and Lyft drivers got a combined $80 million from the US government in the pandemic.
  • Gig-economy drivers were one of the largest beneficiaries of a small-business support scheme, the Washington Post reported.
  • Drivers are classified as independent contractors and are allowed to apply for the grants.

More than 27,000 drivers working for Uber and Lyft have received at least $80 million in government assistance during the pandemic, according to an analysis of government data by The Washington Post.

As a group, the drivers were one of the largest beneficiaries of a government grant and loan program to support small businesses in times of severe economic turmoil, the Post reported, citing data from the Small Business Administration (SBA) released to a handful of publications under the Freedom of Information Act.

Gig-economy work at taxi app companies such as Uber dried up when coronavirus hit the US, as people stayed at home and drivers avoided the risk of catching the virus from passengers.

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Uber and Lyft drivers tapped into the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program, put in place to help businesses, entrepreneurs, and other workers pull through the pandemic, the Post reported. They could also apply for the EIDL Advance program.

More than 4,000 Uber and Lyft drivers received the EIDL loans, each getting an average of around $15,000, according to the paper's analysis. Drivers who applied for EIDL Advance - more than 23,000 drivers - got about $1,100 on average, the Post reported.

Gig workers are allowed to apply for the EIDL because they are classified as independent contractors. Uber and Lyft also count their drivers as self-employed, something they've been taken to court for in the UK.

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SBA spokeswoman Tiffani Shea Clements told the Post that loans for ride-hailing firms and gig workers identified by The Post made up a tiny proportion of about 10 million EIDL advances and loans provided by the SBA.

Other gig-economy companies were also heavily present in EIDL data, such as DoorDash, with more than 3,500 entries, Airbnb, with more than 3,000, and Instacart, with more than 1,500, according to the Post.

In November, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and other gig companies spent $200 million on a campaign to keep their drivers as gig workers under Proposition 22, instead of classing them as full-time employees, which would open up benefits such as healthcare.

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An Uber spokesperson told the Post that the company had given up to two weeks of financial help to drivers and couriers who contracted COVID-19 or had to quarantine due to preexisting conditions that put them at risk.

A Lyft spokesperson told Insider: "The vast majority of people who drive for Lyft do so part-time to earn extra money and have other jobs - 96% of drivers work or are students in addition to driving - and, like so many Americans, they deserve relief from the government to help with the broad economic impacts of the pandemic."

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