With the partial shutdown in the Federal government now in its 33rd day, furloughed workers are freelancing with Uber, the ride-hailing company, to shore up cash.
During an interview with CNBC Wednesday (Jan. 23), Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said because of the low barrier to entry to become a Uber driver it is a viable option for the government workers in need of a paycheck. “We love it when new driver partners join the platform, but this is most definitely not how we want new driver partners to join the platform,” Khosrowshahi told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” from the World Economic Forum in Davos. “We haven’t quantified [how many new drivers have joined], but it’s definitely happening in D.C., and it’s happening to the most needy. We’re hoping that this ends.”
He noted that what makes Uber attractive to displaced workers is that if they lose their jobs they have an opportunity to earn money, and when they go back to their government job it is easy to make the transition.
With about 800,000 government workers about to miss their second paycheck since the shutdown began, struggling workers are turning to different services to survive. In some cases, the places they go to get access to cash can be costly for them. Last week, the Financial Times reported that some lenders are seeing upticks in business as the shutdown continues. The Financial Times pointed to traditional installment loan company World Acceptance out of South Carolina as one example. Chad Prashad, chief executive, told the paper the company is seeing increased demand in Texas and the Southeast, two areas where airports employ government workers. EZ Corp., which operates a pawnshop in Austin, Texas, has seen its stock gain during the shutdown with investors betting that pawnshops will do brisk business during the closing of the federal government.