Airbnb launches new ‘Economic Empowerment Agenda’ to drive job growth

President Donald Trump isn’t the only one talking about creating jobs.

Airbnb on Monday made a pledge of its own. The San Francisco-based startup launched its new “Economic Empowerment Agenda,” designed to create economic opportunities for the landlords who rent their homes on the online platform, their neighbors, and the people who work for them.

Airbnb says it supported 730,000 jobs globally last year, and estimates it will support 1.3 million this year. As part of its new economic initiative, Airbnb says it will double the size of its footprint in underserved areas with a high concentration of minorities, and will ask its hosts to commit to paying the people who clean their homes at least $15 per hour.

“While governments are debating the best way to support groups such as seniors and the middle class, Airbnb is generating real money for families right now,” the company wrote in a blog post Monday. “Going forward, we are committed to building on our progress and today we are announcing the Airbnb Economic Empowerment Agenda, a series of steps we’re taking to support our community and generate new economic opportunities for families.”

CEO Brian Chesky unveiled the company’s plans while speaking at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. He also used the time to tease investors with a hint of an upcoming Airbnb IPO, according to CNBC, which reports Chesky said going public is a two-year process, and Airbnb is about halfway through that process.

The move comes less than a week after Chesky in San Francisco announced new steps to give Airbnb landlords a greater say in the company’s business.

Though affordable housing advocates and city regulators have been critical of the startup, Airbnb says it supports jobs by bringing tourist dollars to communities that ordinarily wouldn’t see that income. To back up its claim, the startup commissioned a study from NERA Economic Consulting, which examined the economic impact of Airbnb in 200 of the company’s markets around the world. Airbnb brought $61 billion to those 200 cities last year — supporting 730,000 jobs, according to the study.

Critics of Airbnb complain the startup is displacing residents and driving up prices in already unaffordable cities by encouraging landlords to rent their properties to tourists on Airbnb instead of to long-term tenants. Officials in cities including San Francisco have fought the startup on this front — sometimes even ending up in court.

In an effort to show critics that it does, in fact, care about the communities it is disrupting, Airbnb says it will launch a “Living Wage Pledge” by Labor Day. Landlords who sign this optional pledge will commit to paying the workers who clean their home and ready it for guests at least $15 an hour. By 2020, Airbnb promises all contractors and vendors who provide a “substantial” amount of work to Airbnb in the U.S. will receive $15 an hour.

Airbnb also promises to ramp up its focus on urban communities with predominantly minority populations.

“In recent years, African American, Latino and other minority group communities have been some of our fastest-growing host areas in US cities, bringing new dollars to these neighborhoods and the citizens who live there,” the company wrote.

Airbnb says it intends to double the size of its landlord community in those “urban majority-minority” areas, which it will do through a new effort partnering with local organizations and holding more local informational events about the home-sharing business.

“These provisions of the Airbnb Economic Empowerment Agenda are just the beginning. Going forward, we’ll be working to offer our hosts even more economic empowerment opportunities,” Airbnb wrote. “These tools and services will be available at a dedicated hub on our platform that will launch in the months ahead.”

Image: Airbnb screenshot (Airbnb)

 

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