Human Journey

It’s About Time: How Americans While Away the Hours

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Have you ever wondered how your days stack up to those of the average American? Here’s your chance to find out. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released the American Time Use Survey, which looks at the amount of time per day people spend working, taking care of their kids, and letting off steam. Among the results:

  • Work vs. Housework: Employed men spend 47 minutes more each day at work than women do–at least if you only consider the work for which they receive a paycheck. Women, on the other hand, spend significantly more time than men on housework and food prep, though men chip in more when it comes to lawn care.  Moreover, women of all ages spend more time than their male peers on volunteer activities.
  • The TV Gap: There are significant differences in the ways that the youngest and oldest Americans spend their leisure time. People 75 and older spend twice as much time watching TV as their counterparts aged 15-19. Likewise, older Americans read eight times as long reading on weekend days than the young–58 minutes vs. 7 minutes. (What beyond a cereal box can you read in 7 minutes?) So how do young spend their free time? They have big leads on their elders when it comes to playing games and using computers for leisure, and exercising.
  • The Big Sleep: The young and old among us do have one thing in common: they sleep more than other age groups. Meanwhile, college students get about an hour of sleep for each 25 minutes they spend studying.

For all the latest science news, check out the National Geographic’s twice-weekly news rundown, EarthCurrent.

Since 2005, Michael has been a librarian at National Geographic.

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