Apps like Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, Doordash, Instacart, and more have heralded the onset of the gig economy — a marketplace where a person uses an application to temporarily hire someone to, say, give them a ride or bring them dinner. Gig workers have been dehumanized by the conglomerates that “employ” them for years, but a new investigation by The Markup has revealed even more disturbing statistics: More than 50 gig workers in the United States have been murdered in the past five years, with most of them being people of color.
Here’s a little more from The Markup to help give context to the kind of concerns gig workers face on a regular basis:
It’s estimated that more than one million people in the U.S. work for one or more of these gig companies. The assaults happened across the country, from Arizona to Kentucky to Pennsylvania, and the majority happened in 2021, with 28 reported homicides. Seven murders tracked by Gig Workers Rising occurred in the first two months of this year alone.
Some of the workers were accidentally caught in drive-by shootings, others in road rage incidents or botched carjackings and robberies. While cities across the country have seen a rise in carjackings and associated crimes over the last couple of years, these incidents appear to be happening to gig workers at an especially high rate.
Because gig workers are treated as independent contractors, big companies like Uber or DoorDash don’t provide benefits to the workers that keep these corporations in business. So when deaths or injuries happen, these companies have no responsibility to provide assistance or care. Further, Uber spokesperson Andrew Hasbun is quoted in The Markup as saying that violent crimes and murders against drivers is indeed a bad thing — but the implication is that because Uber operates on such a large scale, the victims of these crimes are relatively minimal.
Unfortunately, further digging by The Markup revealed that a disproportionate amount of gig workers killed on the job were people of color:
Gig Workers Rising said its spreadsheet includes only reported homicides, not traffic accidents or other causes of death. Most of those killed—63 percent—were people of color, according to the group, which also reported that several families say they received little support from the companies after the incidents.
The full article is horrifying, but it’s worth your time — and it features access to the data accessed to produce the statistics involved. It’s further evidence that gig workers are regularly mistreated and that it’s time to implement a wider series of protections for them.