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7 Figures: How Americans Spend Their Time

3 ¾ min

Every year the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities, such as paid work, childcare, volunteering, and socializing.

Here are seven figures you should know from the latest report:

1. In 2018, 89 percent of full-time employed persons worked on an average weekday, compared with 31 percent on an average weekend day, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Full-time employed persons averaged 8.5 hours of work time on weekdays they worked, and 5.4 hours on weekend days they worked. Multiple jobholders were more likely to work on an average weekend day than were single jobholders – 56 percent, compared with 28 percent.

2. On the days they worked, employed men worked 34 minutes more than employed women. This difference partly reflects women’s greater likelihood of working part time. However, even among full-time workers (those usually working 35 hours or more per week), men worked more per day than women – 8.2 hours, compared with 7.9 hours.

3. Among workers age 25 and over, those with an advanced degree were more likely to work at home than were persons with lower levels of educational attainment – 42 percent of those with an advanced degree performed some work at home on days worked, compared with 12 percent of those with a high school diploma and no college. Workers with an advanced degree also were more likely to work on an average day than were those with only a high school diploma – 74 percent, compared with 65 percent.

4. On an average day, 84 percent of women and 69 percent of men spent some time doing household activities, such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or household management. On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on these activities, while men spent 2.0 hours. On an average day, 20 percent of men did housework – such as cleaning or laundry – compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-six percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 69 percent of women. Men were slightly more likely to engage in lawn and garden care than were women – 11 percent, compared with 7 percent.

5. On an average day, nearly everyone age 15 and over (96 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Men spent 49 minutes per day more in these activities than did women (5.7 hours, compared with 4.9 hours). On average, adults age 75 and over spent 7.8 hours engaged in leisure activities per day – more than any other age group; 25-to 44-year-olds spent a little over 4.0 hours engaged in leisure and sports activities per day – less than other age groups.

6. Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for just over half of all leisure time, on average. Socializing and communicating, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, accounted for an average of 38 minutes per day, and was the next most common leisure activity after watching TV. Individuals spent about twice as much time socializing on weekend days (59 minutes) as on weekdays (29 minutes).

7. Adults living in households with children under age 6 spent an average of 2.1 hours per day providing primary childcare to household children. Adults living in households where the youngest child was between the ages of 6 and 17 spent less than half as much time providing primary childcare to household children – 50 minutes per day. Primary childcare is childcare that is done as a main activity, such as providing physical care or reading to children.


This article has been republished with the permission of the Acton Institute.

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Image Credit: 

Flickr-Rawpixel Ltd, CC BY 2.0

Joe Carter

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute.

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