Uber talks a big game when it comes to how much its drivers make. They create video games, ad campaigns, and stalk drivers from other ride sharing services to promote a single message: Uber is a great way to make a living.
Spreadsheets of raw driver data, acquired by BuzzFeed, show that while Uber sometimes claims that its drivers make nearly six-figure salaries, many drivers actually make close to minimum wage.
BuzzFeed's calculations had to account for factors many people neglect when reporting hourly wages. Uber drivers incur expenses on top of their hourly wages: They pay for their own gas, insurance and maintenance costs, not to mention the depreciation of the vehicles they use. These expenses knock their hourly wage down by a few dollars and cost thousands of dollars a year on aggregate.
After all these expenses, the hourly wages in Houston during the examined period was $10.75. In Denver, the healthiest market BuzzFeed examined, the hourly wage ended up at $13.17, which is less than $28,000 after working 40 hours a week.
The worst city in the leaked dataset is Detroit, where drivers make approximately $8.77 in a state where the minimum wage is $8.50. Walmart pledges higher wages.
Rhetoric vs. record: No two Uber drivers are the same in the way they work and why. They drive different kinds of cars, make their own hours and often use Uber to supplement their income. Combine this with the fact that Uber keeps its driver data close to the vest (even under penalty of law) and it's difficult to transparently evaluate how much the average driver makes.
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HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 27: A general view at the Lyft driver rally at Siren Studios on January 27, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Lyft)
FILE - In this Jan. 4, 2013 file photo, Lyft passenger Christina Shatzen gets into a car driven by Nancy Tcheou, in San Francisco. Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies may soon be able to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport after debate over whether their drivers are properly screened to weed out criminals. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
The Lyft Inc. logo and application (app) is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and MacBook Air for an arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Lyft Inc. is taking its ride-sharing service into New York this week and is abandoning its trademark pink mustaches in the process, taking on rival Uber Technologies Inc. in one of the biggest U.S. markets. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Lyft Inc. application (app) is demonstrated on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s during a Lyft ride for an arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Lyft Inc. is taking its ride-sharing service into New York this week and is abandoning its trademark pink mustaches in the process, taking on rival Uber Technologies Inc. in one of the biggest U.S. markets. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 12: A Lyft car drives along Powell Street on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The California Public Utilities Commission is cracking down on ride sharing companies like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar by issuing a warning that they could lose their ability to operate within the state if they are caught dropping off or picking up passengers at airports in California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2014, file photo a man leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies may soon be able to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport after debate over whether their drivers are properly screened to weed out criminals. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
Uber driver Karim Amrani sits in his car parked near the San Francisco International Airport parking area in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. In the three months ended in June, Uber overtook taxis as the most expensed form of ground transportation, according to expense management system provider Certify. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Map locates countries where Uber operates; 2c x 2 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 63 mm;
FILE - In this Wednesday, March 18, 2015 file photo, on a cell phone in New York, the Uber app displays cars available for a pick up at 100 Centre St., a few blocks from City Hall. A deal has been struck between New York City and Uber on the eve of a highly watched City Council vote that could have placed a cap on the number of the ride-hailing company's cars on the streets of the nation's largest city. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)
The photograph of UberPOP driver Anthony Loussala-Dubreas, 24, of Paris, is seen on his UberPOP application on his smartphone in his car in Paris, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. A French court on Friday ordered Uber to withdraw from its mobile app to French users "all mention suggesting it is legal" for Uber's drivers to act like taxis â that is, driving around and waiting for clients. But the court did not ban the popular ride-hailing service. (AP Photo/Bastien Inzaurralde)
In this April 3, 2014 photo, a smartphone is mounted on the glass of an Uber car in Mumbai, India. Riding on its startup success and flush with fresh capital, taxi-hailing smartphone app Uber is making a big push into Asia. The company has in the last year started operating in 18 cities in Asia and the South Pacific including Seoul, Shanghai, Bangkok, Hong Kong and five Indian cities. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
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But Uber puts out its own numbers every once in a while. Two years ago, Uber said that its drivers in New York City made about $90,000 a year, while San Francisco drivers made about $74,000.
Things have gotten worse in the past few years. In the global race for car service domination, Uber has slashed prices to undercut cab companies and competing services like Lyft. How have Uber drivers responded? By holding protests in New York, blockading the roads in Brazil, and setting cars on fire in France.