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Instacart drivers say this data proves they’re still being underpaid

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Bowing to worker pressure and negative press about instances of miniscule payments on assignments (as low as 80¢), grocery delivery service Instacart agreed to guarantee new minimum payments–ranging from $5 to $10–to all its drivers, known as “shoppers,” beginning February 19. But shoppers we spoke to say matters haven’t improved, and may have gotten worse. Now they have new tools to make their case. Labor rights organization Working Washington has created online calculators that let shoppers determine the hourly rate for a given assignment offered or completed.

Shoppers have been exchanging screenshots of dozens of offers that Instacart’s app has presented since the new pay structure took effect on February 19. (The policy sets minimums; assignments can pay much more, depending on size and travel involved.) Running 44 of them through Working Washington’s calculators, Fast Company found an average hourly rate–for those specific offers–of $9.12 before tip, and $11.83 including tip. Instacart declined to comment publicly on Working Washington’s methodology.

The shoppers who have been sharing offers have focused on ones they found to be exceptionally low, so their samples may not represent typical current Instacart offers. But the volume of these low offers indicates that they are not isolated instances. (The 44 we evaluated are a subset from a steady stream being shared on a national Facebook group for Instacart shoppers or sent directly to Fast Company.)

Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour. State minimums range up to $13.25 (in the District of Columbia), and Working Washington is leading a national campaign, among Instacart and other gig workers, demanding a minimum of $15 per hour, not including tips or expenses. (The Federal government and most states allow tips to count toward minimum wage. A few states do not.)

Related: The fight for $15 (per hour) comes to the gig economy

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