Pando

You probably won't make $78,000 per year through TaskRabbit

By Nathaniel Mott , written on March 31, 2015

From The News Desk

A new report claims TaskRabbit workers can earn up to $78,000 per year.

While that might make it seem like a good idea to quit your day job, it's worth remembering that most workers won't earn that much, and that TaskRabbit has been criticized in the past for how it treats its don't-call-them-employees.

MarketWatch says 15 percent of taskers (the term of choice for people who find work on TaskRabbit's platform) are full-time. Many of them "earn $6,000 to $7,000 a month" after the service takes its 20 percent cut of their earnings.

Yet the report all but glosses over criticism levied against TaskRabbit. It hardly mentions that most people who find work through the service won't earn the $78,000 mentioned in the report's headline and makes no mention at all of the complaints about TaskRabbit's decision to change how workers find gigs.

Companies in the on-demand economy often lure workers with promises of making a certain wage. What they don't mention is the cost of doing business, the variability inherent to their platform, and the way these companies have blurred the lines between "independent contractor" and "full-time employee."

But those problems are general to gig-based companies like Uber, Handy, and others that allow people to hire on-demand workers through their platforms. Other issues are more specific to TaskRabbit, such as complaints about how the company changed how people find jobs. As Matter reported in December:

[P]otential employers enter a four-hour time window, select from one of four main job categories, and enter a description. They then select from a list of taskers whose hourly rates fit the bill, or let TaskRabbit’s algorithm choose one.

Trouble is, this doesn’t mean the tasker wants this particular job, it just means TaskRabbit thinks the tasker wants to do a job in this category and is available. In the past, this wasn’t an issue: Taskers chose which job description to respond to. Now they just get notifications saying they’re needed. They are, effectively, on call.

TaskRabbit used to make it easy for people to work in their spare time, or to set their own hours. Now its platform matches prospective employers with taskers who might not have any real desire to perform the jobs TaskRabbit finds them.

And that's fine! There are bound to be people willing to work for TaskRabbit even though it drastically changed the way it functions. But pitching the service as a place where people can earn $78,000 while being their own bosses is just a little disingenuous, given the realities of working for on-demand companies.

 [illustration by Brad Jonas]