Airbnb has launched an economic empowerment initiative.
The goal seems to be to show that Airbnb contributes to local economies, creates jobs and provides opportunities for the middle class to supplement their income. Key quote from their blog post announcing the initiative:
At a time of growing economic inequality, Airbnb is democratizing capitalism and creating economic opportunities for the middle class, using technology to help connect and empower our community – not replace it. Our people-for-people platform allows ordinary people to use their house – typically their greatest expense – to generate supplemental income to pay for costs like food, rent, and education for their children. The typical Airbnb US host earns $6,100 sharing their space.
Airbnb backs this up with a study by the respected economic consulting firm NERA.
Using a standard economic impact model based on Implan multipliers, NERA found Airbnb host activity created about 130,000 U.S. jobs in 2016.
The report includes a forecast saying this will grow to 770,000 in 2025.
Airbnb is also making a "living wage pledge".
The main part of this pledge is they will ask its hosts to commit to paying the people who clean their homes at least $15 per hour.
This initiative comes at a time when Airbnb is under increased attack from affordable housing advocates, city regulators and the hotel industry. Examples include:
The hotel industry claiming that Airbnb is “providing a platform for commercial operators to run illegitimate, unregulated and often illegal hotels in communities across the country.” The hotel industry is also claiming that Airbnb is playing games with taxes.
Many cities fear Airbnb reduces the number of available long term rental apartments and increases gentrification.
But it's very clear Airbnb provides a service much valued by the public and their hosts. So we're not worried about Airbnb.
We also think their new initiative and broader efforts show they are trying to be good corporate citizens.
Their study and data also provide another example of Americans turning to supplemental income sources. This is, of course, consistent with the findings of the Intuit On-Demand Economy study.