Mar 30, 2023 Dasher

How Dashing Provides New Work Opportunities for People Experiencing Disabilities

We are proud to provide flexible and convenient earning opportunities to millions of people, including individuals who have historically faced limited choices due to disabilities and chronic conditions. To raise awareness of the diverse array of Dasher experiences, we’re releasing new data showing how people experiencing disabilities are finding work opportunities on DoorDash that meet their unique needs, as well as highlighting a few reasons why some Dashers with disabilities choose to earn on our platform. 

While over a quarter of American adults experience disabilities, they represented only four percent of the general workforce in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than three-quarters of people experiencing a disability are not in the workforce at all, and among those who are, the unemployment rate is double compared to those who do not have a disability. 

But according to our 2022 Dasher survey, 18 percent of Dashers say they have a disability or other chronic condition, which is four times more than the general workforce. This difference in labor participation illustrates the value dashing provides to people with disabilities, especially when other options available to them might be more challenging due to lack of flexibility, physical requirements, and other limitations to traditional work. In fact, more than a third of Dashers with disabilities say they would not replace their dashing income if independent and flexible work like delivery was not an option for them. 

“Many places won’t hire me because they see people with disabilities as a liability – but as a Dasher, I can set my own hours and earn whenever I am able to,” said Mozeik Perkins, a Dasher based in Brooklyn, NY. “As a Dasher, I can also take days off to rest, recover, or take care of my daughter – but whenever I want to earn, I can dash and get done what I need to do.”

People with disabilities often face discrimination in hiring, employment, or pay. Dashing, however, has very low barriers to entry: no interview is required and, in 2022, 54% of US Dashers completed their first delivery within seven days of starting the sign-up process. Academic research also finds that gig work plays an important role in the lives of people with disabilities. For example, researchers Dara Lee Luca and Purvi Sevak from Mathematica, a research institute, and Boston College found that “[t]he increased availability of gig jobs in recent years might make it easier for adults with disabilities to work.” Similarly, a Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation article authored by researchers Paul Harper and Peter Blank found that “[i]ncreasingly … self-directed or independently contracted work is a way for people with disabilities to participate in the mainstream economy.” 

“I enjoy dashing – it gets me out of the house, has allowed me to meet interesting people, and has helped me regain my strength,” said William Smith, a Dasher based in Norton, MA. “I previously was in the food business for 30 years and dashing is a way for me to stay active.” 

A 2020 report from the Council of State Governments echoed these ideas. “Because of its flexibility, the gig economy has the potential to …increase earning potential for people with disabilities, including those who have faced difficulty finding or retaining traditional employment and/or who want to have more control over where, when and how they work. This increased decision-making power and ability to work on their own terms can positively affect the emotional health of self-employed individuals with and without disabilities.”

Many find mental health benefits to dashing as well. One Massachusetts-based Dasher stated in our most recent survey, if they couldn’t drive with a delivery or rideshare platform, “[m]y depression would take over. Dashing gets me out of bed and helps with depression and I’m not willing to work a standard scheduled job.” 

Every Dasher has their own unique story about why they choose to deliver with DoorDash and why they value the flexible nature of the work. We look forward to continuing to provide low-barrier-to-entry earning opportunities for Dashers of all backgrounds, responsibilities, and life stories, including those with disabilities, mental health struggles, or chronic health conditions.