Technology

Businesses such as Uber, Lyft produced $519M in growth, study finds

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On-demand car services such as Uber and Lyft likely contributed more than half a billion dollars in economic growth over a four-year period, according to an analysis of Census data by a right-leaning think tank.

The American Action Forum (AAF) found that the ride hailing industry created $519 million in growth between 2009 and 2013. The think tank also found that the sector created 22,000 jobs.

{mosads}The group’s analysis also suggests that services such as Airbnb, which allows users to rent out their apartments, houses and guest rooms, have contributed to growth in the lodging sector.

AAF’s conclusions were drawn from looking at Census data on people who report earning money, since the entities do not employ other people.

The figure on economic growth was determined by looking at the taxi and limousine industry, then noting the changes that occurred after the launch of Uber in 2009. Lyft was founded later, in 2012, though a related company was launched in 2007.

The findings from the think tank, whose board includes several prominent Republicans, come as the GOP argues that the on-demand economy should be left largely unregulated so as not to restrict a fast-growing segment of the economy. Uber and Airbnb are the two most valuable startups based in the U.S., according to one estimate.

But some Democrats are more wary of the nascent industry. Many have suggested that there should be more protections for workers at the companies, who are often independent contractors and thus not entitled to the protections of full employees.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has proposed legislation to create a stronger safety net for the workers, while presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says that the startups are raising “hard questions” about worker protections.

But even those who wish to regulate the industry are wary of directly attacking firms such as Uber, which have become symbols of innovation in Silicon Valley and popular with millennial voters.

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