While Airbnb and Uber are both products of the new digital economy, they don't create the same types of extra income everyone expects.
In an article for Quartz, Alison Griswold explains a new study from the JPMorgan Chase Institute that shows Airbnb allows people to make supplemental income by renting out assets, while Uber requires people to earn their money by supplying labor.
People making money from such platforms are younger than the general population—roughly a third are between ages 25 and 35—and disproportionately live in the West. On labor platforms, they’re also a good bit poorer. The median monthly income for labor workers in 2015 was $2,514 compared to $3,218 for people using capital platforms. For JPMorgan Chase’s full study sample (a million people, including those who didn’t have earnings from online platforms), the median monthly income was $2,837.
In other words, Americans who already have more money and stuff to spare also have a leg up in the new digital economy. “On the margin it is helping people who already have assets earn a little more income,” saysDiana Farrell, CEO of the JPMorgan Chase Institute. Lower income people who turn to companies like Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit are basically treading water.
Griswold concludes the study shows these platforms help those with capital get richer, while those without capital assets will continue to struggle. These platforms are only more likely to increase the income inequality in America by leaving low-income earners with little capital out of the gig economy.