The Online Platform Economy in 2018: Drivers, Workers, Sellers, and Lessors

JPMorgan Chase Institute, 2018

32 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2018

See all articles by Diana Farrell

Diana Farrell

JP Morgan Chase & Co. - JP Morgan Chase Institute

Fiona Greig

The Vanguard Group, Inc.

Amar Hamoudi

JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Date Written: September 24, 2018


Just a decade ago, the Online Platform Economy comprised a handful of marketplaces connecting independent sellers to buyers of physical goods. Today, many consumers use online platforms to procure almost any kind of good or service. Have these innovations created new viable options for making a living? In this study we extend the JPMorgan Chase Institute Online Platform Economy dataset in order to track supply-side participation and earnings. We identify 38 million payments directed through 128 different online platforms to 2.3 million distinct Chase checking accounts, out of a de-identified sample of 39 million, between October 2012 and March 2018. Our description distinguishes four sectors of the Online Platform Economy: the transportation sector, the non-transport work sector, the selling sector, and the leasing sector. Our findings are fivefold. First, the Online Platform Economy has continued to grow. Between 2013 and 2018, transportation platforms have grown to dominate in terms of both the number of participants and total transaction volume. Second, most participants in the Online Platform Economy are active in just a few months out of the year, though drivers are slightly more engaged than participants in the other sectors. Third, the growth in the supply of drivers has come alongside a 53 percent decline in average transportation earnings. Between 2013 and 2017, average earnings grew by 69 percent in the leasing sector but showed no strong trends in the non-transport work and selling sectors. Fourth, platform earnings represent a major source of income for families in the months they participate in the Online Platform Economy but just 20 percent of income among those who have participated at any point over the prior year. Finally, participation in the Online Platform Economy varied significantly across the nation. Among 23 states and 26 cities, Nevada and San Francisco had the highest participation rates in the Online Platform Economy. The non-employed and men were more likely to drive than the employed and women. The young were more likely to participate in all sectors. Taken together, our findings indicate that regardless of whether or not platform work could in principle represent the “future of work,” most participants are not putting it to the type of use that would usher in that future.

Keywords: Online Platform Economy, Labor Supply, Earnings

JEL Classification: J00, J20, J22, J4, J46, R23

Suggested Citation

Farrell, Diana and Greig, Fiona and Hamoudi, Amar, The Online Platform Economy in 2018: Drivers, Workers, Sellers, and Lessors (September 24, 2018). JPMorgan Chase Institute, 2018, Available at SSRN:

Diana Farrell

JP Morgan Chase & Co. - JP Morgan Chase Institute ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Fiona Greig (Contact Author)

The Vanguard Group, Inc. ( email )

100 Vanguard Blvd
Malvern, PA 19355
United States

Amar Hamoudi

JP Morgan Chase & Co. ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics