Lyft and Uber’s pandemic-related struggles mean huge layoffs

With most people sheltering at home during this pandemic, ride-hailing apps aren’t getting much use these days. This initially translated into quickly declining revenue for companies like Uber and Lyft, but now, more than a month into the coronavirus pandemic, both are announcing layoffs. 

Uber and Lyft are very much feeling the effects of social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak. On Wednesday, San Francisco-based Lyft put out a filing through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission about a 17-percent workforce cut. That amounts to about 982 workers, a figure which doesn’t involve any independently contracted drivers. In another cost-savings effort, roughly 288 additional employees were furloughed and all remaining salaried employees will see a range of cuts applied to their base pay for 12 weeks starting next month. 

A Lyft spokesperson said the company wouldn’t break down those numbers by department and region beyond what’s mentioned in the SEC filing, but that the terminations affect all teams. 

In an emailed statement from CEO Logan Green, he wrote, “It is now clear that the COVID-19 crisis is going to have broad-reaching implications for the economy, which impacts our business. We have therefore made the difficult decision to reduce the size of our team. Our guiding principle for decision-making right now is to ensure we emerge from the crisis in the strongest possible position to achieve the company’s mission.”

In a report from The Information this week, sources hinted at upcoming cuts at Lyft’s bigger rival, Uber. Those cuts could account for as much as 20 percent of all of Uber’s 27,000 employees worldwide. That equates to more than 5,000 full-time workers. In response to the report, an Uber spokesperson said, “As you would expect, the company is looking at every possible scenario to ensure we get to the other side of this crisis in a stronger position than ever.” 

A survey from used-car purchasing site CarGurus  found that regular ride-share users are already planning to ditch services like Lyft and Uber once commuting and economic activity gradually resumes. The survey of 722 American drivers released this week found almost 40 percent plan to stop using ride-hailing services. 

Next week both Uber and Lyft will be sharing earnings numbers for the first quarter of the year, the tail-end of which was deeply thrown off by the spread of COVID-19.

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