How Americans Spend Their Time

December 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

American teens read slightly more in 2007 than they did in 2006. Americans are spending more time in classrooms, and more American men are doing work around the house, according to the most recent American Time Use Survey issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The report, which surveyed the amount of time per day that Americans worked, cared for children, and participated in various leisure activities during 2007, found that about 20% of employed people did some or all of their work from home last year, compared with 21% of employed people who did so in 2006. People with a bachelor’s degree were almost six times as likely to have the option to work from home on occasion.

On the average day, 66% of men reported doing some type of household related activity, such as lawn care, cooking, checkbook management, etc., up from 64% in 2006. The amount of time men spent on household activities remained steady at 2.1 hours, compared with 2.7 hours for women, 83% of whom reported doing some type of household activity. In other words, while slightly more men are pitching in around the house, their performance, overall, is comparatively mediocre.

Of the 9% of the U.S. population who engaged in educational activities on a given day, the amount of time spent in class rose from 4.5 hours per day to 5.2 hours. The amount of time devoted to homework also rose by half an hour to 3 hours.

Leisure habits are undergoing what some might consider a surprising transition. In 2006, Americans aged 75 and older spent 1.4 hours per weekend day reading, and about 12 minutes per day using a computer for leisure, including playing computer games. Teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 spent more than an hour a day using a computer and playing video games and barely 7 minutes reading for pleasure. But in 2007, adults aged 75 and older spent an average of 20 minutes playing on PC while the teenagers spent nearly twice as much time with a book in their hands as they did in 2006; and teens actually spent less time using a computer for games and casual surfing. People aged 75 and older spent more time using the telephone, mailing, and e-mailing than almost any other group, roughly 12 minutes per day, s e cond only to 15- t o 19-year-olds, who spent 15 minutes per day gabbing on the phone or online. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, it should be noted, does not include a separate category for texting or surfing the Web via phone.)

Among the survey’s other findings:

* Watching television remains the single most common and most timeconsuming leisure activity among Americans. Both men and women spent an average of 2.6 hours per day surfing channels from the couch.

* Teenagers spend less time eating than any other group, and more time engaged in personal-care activities.

* American men spend an average of 2 hours a day playing sports (on the days when they played), as opposed to 1.4 hours for women.

* Adults with children under the age of 6 spend about 2 hours a day providing what’s called primary child care – i.e., playing with, supervising, bathing, feeding, talking to, screaming at, or otherwise interacting directly with their children without distraction. In households where the children were between the ages of 6 and 17, time spent providing primary child care dropped by an hour, allowing for more of what BLS calls secondary child care – cooking, cleaning, or performing some other activity with the children nearby. – Patrick Tucker

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey – 2007 Results. Web site http://www.bls.gov.

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