In order to measure the impact of the Uber and Lyft “gig economy” on the traditional taxi industry, analyzed the Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service’s data on “non-employer firms”, or businesses that make at least $1,000 a year, but have no employees.
The study found that the number of non-employer firms in the taxi, limousine and ground transport industry nationwide nearly doubled between 2009 and 2014, growing from 197,000 to 346,000. Between 2012 and 2014, the San Jose area saw both the greatest percentage growth in non-employer firms in the ground transport industry at 145% and the greatest percentage drop in payroll employees at 31%. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Austin have also reported non-employer firm growth of more than 130%. Of the 50 cities surveyed, only 16 reported a drop in the number of payroll employees.
The study’s economists could not come to a conclusion about the impact of Uber and Lyft on taxi companies. “Are we seeing the fulfillment of unmet demand or the cannibalization of incumbent, payroll employment?” economist Mark Muro asked. “It doesn’t seem a clear case either way.”