Aug 11, 2021 Dasher

Understanding Dashers: The results of our national Dasher survey

Over the last quarter, DoorDash has continued working hard to respond to changes in communities across the globe, helping to uplift local economies through our commitments to Dashers, merchants, and customers. In particular, we’re proud that so many people continue to come to our platform for flexible, easily accessible, and immediate earnings they can’t find in traditional, more structured work. Just last quarter, from April to June, over three million people dashed, including more first-time Dashers than in any previous quarter.

To better understand our Dasher community, including what brings them to our platform, what they find valuable, and what public policy solutions would support their goals, we recently completed a survey of Dashers across the U.S. It was the most robust survey we’ve ever completed, and the results are clear: people come to DoorDash because they value the flexibility, the accessible earnings opportunity, and because other types of work simply don’t fit the needs of their lives at a particular time. 

While the results show a number of clear trendlines in what attracts people to dashing, they also underscore what we have long felt to be true: referring to Dashers as “gig workers” misrepresents who they really are. In fact, the survey shows that only 15% of Dashers work exclusively with app-based platforms, earning on their own terms and as their own bosses. Of those 15%, over half are dashing while they look for other work. In contrast, 85% of Dashers have other primary occupations or life commitments. Dashers are delivering fewer than four hours a week on average and 90% of Dashers deliver fewer than 10 hours a week, which means they’re not a “gig economy worker” and more a “parent,” an “entrepreneur,” a “student,” a “teacher,” a “retiree,” and more. In short, the vast majority of Dashers are earning independently with DoorDash while fitting this work into their careers and life — not the other way around. 

What “Flexibility” Really Means

DoorDash and platforms like it often talk about how Dashers value the flexibility this work offers. It’s because we hear it a lot. But there’s work to do in ensuring everyone else understands what we mean. 

Flexibility starts long before any Dasher accepts their first delivery. We believe the majority of U.S. adults would qualify to be Dashers if they were to sign up. Those who want to dash and meet our screening requirements are typically eligible to begin dashing the same day they sign up. This allows millions of people to start earning whenever they want, stop earning whenever they want, and repeat the cycle as they choose. This accessibility and flexibility bears out in the survey results: 

  • 78% of Dashers say the ability to create their own schedule is one of the main reasons they partner with DoorDash.
  • 76% say it’s because they’re able to work as much or as little as they want. 

We also see flexibility in the variability in how Dashers choose to work. For example, among Dashers who dashed on a Monday in April through June of this year, roughly half dashed the subsequent Monday, and less than 20% dashed each of the next four Mondays (the pattern is similar for all days of the week). This shows that most Dashers aren’t using the platform like a traditional job with set shifts handed out in advance by their employer. Dashers are using the platform when and how they want to. 

The reason Dashers have this flexibility when working with DoorDash is because they are independent contractors. They’re paid for each delivery they complete, and when they’re not delivering an order, they can fill their time any way they wish, by working a full-time job, running errands, caring for loved ones, earning on another platform, or just relaxing. This flexibility to craft their own schedule, without permission needed from a boss, explains why the survey found that 90% of Dashers want to remain independent contractors. Knowing this further underscores the importance of our work to find portable, proportional, and flexible frameworks that let Dashers keep their flexibility, but also gain access to important benefits and protections.  

Income earned with DoorDash is filling gaps, especially for those who have lost income elsewhere

We recently shared that nationally, Dashers earn over $25 per hour they’re delivering, helping Dashers earn income when they need it. We know being able to earn immediately and at the touch of a button has always been important, but this accessibility took on a new value during the pandemic when unemployment skyrocketed and many were looking for ways to earn while seeking new opportunities or caring for loved ones. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2020, nearly 50 million people reported that they had been unable to work at some point in the last 4 weeks because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic and only 18 percent of them received some pay from their employer for the hours not worked. This left millions of people in need of income quickly, and we’re proud to have provided an opportunity for them to find that. 

Our recent survey findings expand on the value of Dasher earnings: 

  • 68% of Dashers use DoorDash to make up for lost hours/reduced income at work, and that number jumps to 75% among those making less than $50,000 per year–showing the particular value of our platform for those who may need it most. 
  • 71% of Dashers deliver more during certain times of the month to meet financial goals,  like paying off bills, caring for family, buying gifts, and saving for big purchases.
  • 52% of Dashers dashed to avoid applying for government benefits, including 59% of caretakers, 57% of Dashers of color, and 57% of veterans and their families. The government programs Dashers reported avoiding because they were able to earn through DoorDash were SNAP (49%), COVID-19 unemployment benefits (48%) and unemployment insurance (47%).

In addition to providing an opportunity for Dashers to put money in their pockets, we work hard on products and partnerships that help Dashers save on expenses. This quarter, we added a partnership with GoodRx to our slate of Dasher perks and partnerships, to help Dashers access discounts on prescriptions and telehealth services. In addition, because we hear it from Dashers all the time and know immediate access to income is critical, we rolled out Instant Pay through DasherDirect, enabling Dashers to immediately cash out their earnings after each Dash, multiple times a day, making it faster and easier to earn. 

Rideshare and traditional employment often don’t work for Dashers’ lives

The results of the survey further emphasized that the vast majority of Dashers aren’t the same people you’ll see on rideshare platforms. 

  • 96% of Dashers don’t currently drive with rideshare platforms. 82% of Dashers have never done so and have no plans to try it. 
  • When asked why, 72% of Dashers cite not wanting to share their vehicle, 57% cite safety as the reason, while others say they believe that dashing is more flexible than driving with rideshare. 

What’s more, while many industries have struggled to meet their labor needs as the economy reopens, the highly flexible, low-barrier-to-entry, high-earning opportunities available on DoorDash are extremely compelling and filling a need Dashers aren’t finding elsewhere. That may explain why 27% of Dashers say that they simply would not work if platforms like DoorDash weren’t an option. 

In all, these findings shed new light on the role DoorDash is playing in the lives of millions of people around the U.S. As we look ahead, we are focused on continuing to double down on ways we can support Dashers, as well as merchants, and customers by growing opportunities and access across DoorDash communities.