The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the annual American Time Use Survey results today. This is my favorite time study for a few reasons. First, it is huge (many thousands of people). Second, a few features help with accuracy. A researcher asks the participant to go through yesterday, which means the participant isn’t trying to recall a typical day. There are no typical days. Since the survey isn’t targeting any particular category of time, people are less inclined to give socially desirable answers. This methodology produces some interesting findings:
The average amount of sleep in 24 hours is 8.74 hours. That’s 8.65 hours for men and 8.82 hours for women, and is 8.48 hours for weekdays, and 9.34 hours for weekends/holidays.
Of course, that’s averaged over all Americans aged 15 and older. If we look at those with kids under age 6, we get 8.6 hours/day (men = 8.19, women = 8.93). If we look at those who are employed and have kids under age 6, we get 8.26 hours/day (men = 8.10, women = 8.47). For those with kids aged 6-17 we get 8.61 hours (men = 8.56, women = 8.65), and for those who are employed with kids aged 6-17 we get 8.38 hours (men = 8.36, women = 8.4).
Looking at the whole population, the average American spends 5.26 hours per day engaging in leisure and sports, which includes 2.77 hours watching TV as a primary activity. By contrast, the average American spends a mere 3.46 hours in work and work-related activities.
That’s partly a function of many people not being in the workforce, though. Among employed Americans, leisure drops to 3.73 hours a day. In its press release, the ATUS notes that “employed adults living in households with no children under age 18 engaged in leisure activities for 4.5 hours, about an hour more than employed adults living with a child under age 6.” The good news is that this lower number — 3.44 hours/day — is still pretty good. That’s about 24 hours per week. People who are employed and have kids aged 6-17 clock 3.95 hours of leisure activities per day, or a bit under 28 hours per week.
Where do you think you come out on the leisure total?