25 Hottest Markets for Rideshare Drivers Right Now

This FinanceBuzz study finds that as a rideshare driver, where you drive can have a significant impact on your earnings.
10/28/19 | By Kat Tretina
25 Best Markets for Rideshare Drivers in 2019

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When it comes to driving for rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, where you work has a big impact on your earning potential. Ideally speaking, you want to drive in an area that has a consistent demand and where you’re not competing with too many other drivers.

We set out to find the best markets for rideshare drivers. We identified 25 counties where the demand for rideshare services is growing, and where the increase in sales outpaces the increase in drivers. Here’s what we found.

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Top 25 Growth Markets for Rideshare Services

For this study, FinanceBuzz has classified growth markets as places where the percent difference in transportation sector revenue is greater than the percent difference number of drivers year-over-year, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. (See our methodology for more details.)

County Region % Increase in Drivers % Increase in Sector Revenue
1 Ector County, Texas Odessa

170.8%

192.5%

2 Midland County, Texas Midland

170.0%

315.4%

3 Gallatin County, Montana Gallatin County

150.0%

358.6%

4 Missoula County, Montana Missoula

140.4%

296.4%

5 Yellowstone County, Montana Billings

133.9%

238.8%

6 Weber County, Utah Ogden-Clearfield

117.7%

123.6%

7 Tuscaloosa County, Alabama Tuscaloosa

113.1%

173.8%

8 Coweta County, Georgia Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta

103.3%

262.0%

9 Washington County, Utah St. George

100.0%

163.7%

10 Smith County, Texas Tyler

98.4%

148.3%

11 Robertson County, Tennessee Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro

98.2%

214.8%

12 Merced County, California Merced

96.2%

107.2%

13 Utah County, Utah Provo-Orem

93.5%

98.0%

14 Hernando County, Florida Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater

90.8%

115.2%

15 Montgomery County, Tennessee Clarksville

86.0%

135.4%

16 Summit County, Ohio Akron

85.6%

86.9%

17 Tippecanoe County, Indiana Tippecanoe County

83.8%

101.1%

18 Johnston County, North Carolina Raleigh-Cary

83.1%

99.5%

19 Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Scranton--Wilkes-Barre

82.2%

87.9%

20 Montgomery County, Texas Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land

81.4%

89.2%

21 El Paso County, Colorado Colorado Springs

80.5%

93.4%

22 Bristol County, Massachusetts Providence-New Bedford-Fall River

80.1%

102.2%

23 Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Manchester-Nashua

79.5%

98.0%

24 Allen County, Indiana Fort Wayne

78.9%

79.3%

25 Outagamie County, Wisconsin Appleton

78.6%

186.5%

What's driving the growth?

When it comes to finding the best rideshare markets for drivers, the identified markets had some key factors in common.

1. Population growth

Population growth is one of the biggest factors affecting the market for rideshare drivers. In some areas of the country, the population is increasing rapidly. With more people comes more demand for transportation options, including Uber and Lyft.

The top three markets we identified have a population increase over 20% from 2010 to 2019 (Odessa’s population grew by 20.7%, Midland’s by 27.9%, and Gallatin’s by 24.8%). That’s far higher than the nation’s population growth. In the United States, the population grew by just 6.9% over the same time period, so the top regions experienced far higher-than-average growth.

2. Lack of public transportation options

In the areas with the most growth, there is often a scarcity of public transportation options, such as publicly accessible bus lines or railroads.

In the three markets with the highest increase in self-employed transportation revenue — Midland, Gallatin, and Missoula — this is certainly true.

Midland county’s residents are largely dependent on cars, taxis, and shuttle services, as there are only six fixed bus routes in the city. Midland saw a 315.4% increase in nonemployer transportation revenue.

In Gallatin — which experienced a 358.6% increase in nonemployer transportation revenue — there are public bus routes. However, the hours are quite limited. Many lines stop running after 6:45 p.m., so if you’re working late hours or have appointments in the evening, you’ll need to find other modes of transportation.

Similarly, Missoula — which had a 296.4% increase in nonemployer transportation revenue — does have bus transportation. However, many lines don’t have operating hours past 7:00 p.m., forcing some to use taxis or rideshare services to get around.

3. Number of new businesses

Another major factor to consider is the number of new businesses sprouting up in different areas. As new businesses open, they’re hiring more people and attracting new residents, increasing the demand for transportation.

With new businesses comes increased out-of-town visitors, too. Vendors and companies looking to partner with startups will travel to the area, increasing the burden on the current transportation system.

In Texas — home of four of the biggest markets for rideshare services — the number of small businesses grew by nearly 11%. Utah — where three of the best rideshare markets resides — 40,000 new jobs were added in a single year, and it’s the top state for high-tech job growth.

Green light: 4 benefits of being a rideshare driver

If you’re thinking about becoming a rideshare driver, there are four major perks to consider:

  1. Flexible schedule: As a rideshare driver, you’re your own boss. You can work when it’s convenient for your schedule — or whenever you need extra money. You decide how many rides you take and for how long you drive. If you’re looking for the perfect weekend side hustle, rideshare services can be a great match.
  2. Surge pricing: Both Lyft and Uber offer surge pricing, meaning rates go up during times of high-demand. During these time periods, you can earn more money for common routes, boosting your hourly take-home pay.
  3. Earn tips: Uber and Lyft both allow passengers to give drivers tips. You keep 100% of tips, increasing your earnings.
  4. Boost your income: Driving for rideshare services can help increase your income. With more money, you can reach your financial goals more quickly. You could pay down debt, build an emergency fund, or even save money to buy a home.

Yellow light: Things to consider before you jump in

While working as a rideshare driver can help improve your financial situation, there are some potential drawbacks to keep in mind:

  • Vehicle wear and tear: Because you’re using your own vehicle when you work as a rideshare driver, you may have additional wear and tear on your car. You’ll put miles on more quickly, and may need to pay for more repairs and maintenance.
  • Car insurance: While Uber and Lyft offer rideshare insurance, it doesn’t cover you in all cases. For example, you aren’t covered when you are waiting for a passenger. To fully protect yourself, you may need to purchase additional coverage specifically designed for rideshare drivers.
  • Safety issues: When you’re working as a rideshare driver, you’re giving rides to complete strangers. While the majority of them will be respectful, there is a chance someone could act violently or dangerously.
  • No guaranteed income: Unlike a part-time job with an hourly wage, rideshare services don’t have a guaranteed pay. If you’re working during a slow period, you may not be able to find any passengers and you won’t make any money.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a lucrative side hustle, becoming a rideshare driver can be a smart choice. You can earn money on your own schedule, working when it’s convenient for you.

Where you drive for Uber or Lyft can have a significant impact on your earnings. In some cases, it may make sense to drive to a local market with higher levels of growth; you’ll be able to pick up more passengers and face less competition, boosting your earnings.

Methodology

To identify the top growth markets, we used data from the U.S. Census Bureau — 2016 and 2017 (the most recent years available) "nonemployer" statistics for the "Taxi and Limousine Service" sector. For research purposes, a growth market is defined as one where the percentage increase in sales outweighs the percentage increase of number of drivers year over year. We only looked at markets that had at least 100 establishments in 2017.

The Census Bureau defines a "nonemployer" business as one that has no employees, annual business receipts of $1,000 or more, and is subject to federal income tax.

The Census Bureau defines the "Taxi and Limousine Service" sector as an industry group comprised of establishments primarily engaged in providing passengers transportation by automobile or van or providing an array of specialty transportation services via limousine or luxury sedan on a reserved basis. Establishments in this sector do not operate regular routes or on regular schedules.

Get Paid to Go Shopping

Benefits

  • Get paid to go shopping and make deliveries
  • Be your own boss and set your own hours
  • Get paid weekly
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