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Government Shutdown: Furloughed Federal Workers Are Turning to Uber to Earn a Paycheck, CEO Says

As the government shutdown drags on into its 34th day and furloughed federal workers continue to miss their paychecks, some employees are moonlighting as Uber drivers just so they can get paid.

“We love it when new driver partners join the platform, but this is most definitely not how we want new driver partners to join the platform,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in an interview with CNBC.

Uber hasn’t quantified how many new drivers have joined the ride-hailing service as a result of the shutdown, however Khosrowshahi said it’s “definitely happening in D.C., and it’s happening to the most needy.”

While there can be additional requirements that vary by city, Uber requires its drivers to have a car, license, proof of insurance and to pass a background check before they’re cleared to begin picking up passengers.

Khosrowshahi added that while Uber drivers are a vital part of the company, the government shutdown is not how the company wants to recruit.

Uber’s chief competitor, Lyft, said it is encouraging furloughed workers to consider driving as a way to make bridge income during the shutdown.

“We understand the stress the current government shutdown is placing on furloughed employees and their families and encourage those in need of extra income to consider driving with Lyft. Driving is a reliable way to make ends meet and can help these workers fill in the gap during this uncertain time,” the company said in a statement.

Task Rabbit, the IKEA-owned company popular with people seeking to hire helpers to complete a variety of odd jobs, from assembly furniture to data entry, has previously reported seeing an uptick in workers due to a government shutdown. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, during the government shutdown in 2013, Task Rabbit reported it received 13,000 applications from new taskers.