Economic Insight: How Americans Spend Their Time

June 20, 2019
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Author: Stephanie Ludwigsen

How do men and women fill their days? The latest “American Time Use Summary” (ATUS) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a peek into the lives of employed men and women, revealing how many hours they spent last year in the workplace, at home, on childcare and more.

Time Use Survey

Workplace and Employment

When analyzing the workplace activities of both men and women combined, the ATUS found:

On the Clock: 89 percent of full-time employees worked an average 8.5 hours on a workday and 31 percent worked 5.4 hours on the weekend.

Working One+ Jobs: 90 percent of all those who work multiple jobs, and 82 percent of those who work single jobs, put in their hours on weekdays. By comparison, 56 percent of multiple jobholders and 28 percent of single jobholders worked on the weekend. These figures are down from 2017 when 92 percent of multiple job holders and 81 percent of single job holders worked on the weekdays.

Onsite vs Remote: 82 percent of workers were located at the workplace while 24 percent worked at home. Each of these figures is up by 1 percent compared to the 2017 ATUS report.

Class of Workers: 82.3 percent of employed wage and salary professionals worked an average workday, while 74.5 percent of self-employed professionals worked an average workday. These figures are dramatically up compared to 2017 when 66.6 percent of wage and salary workers and 62.8 percent of self-employed workers worked on an average day.

More Women Enter the Workforce

As the roles of men and women continue to evolve, the number of women entering the workforce, as well as the number working full time, are on an upward trajectory. For example, the 2017 ATUS report found there were 74,300,000 employed women with 52,385,000 working full time and 21,916,000 employed part time. In 2018, that figure jumped to 79,311,000 women working with 57,679,000 employed full time, but a decrease in part-time female workers at 21,632,000.

Even though more women are earning wages, when compared to men, they tend to spend less time at work on average. The report revealed that employed men worked 34 minutes more than employed women in 2018 (a decrease from the 49 additional minutes men worked compared to women in 2017).

Specifically, on an average weekday, men clocked:
• 8.27 hours of work
• 8.65 hours for full-time employees
• 5.39 hours on average for part-time employees

On an average weekday, women logged:
• 7.66 hours during the week
• 8.31 hours for full-time employees
• 5.01 hours for part-time employees

How Women Spend Their Time

On an average 24-hour day, full-time employed women spent the majority of their time at work, on personal care and sleep, on leisure/sports activities, and taking care of household activities.

Specifically, the ATUS data revealed women spend:

• 5.98 hours for working and work-related activities
• 9.36 hours for personal care and sleep
• 1.14 hours for eating and drinking
• 1.72 hours for household activities
• 0.75 hours for purchasing goods and services
• 0.61 hours caring for household members
• 0.14 hours caring for non-household members
• 0.13 hours for educational activities
• 0.24 hours for organizational, civic, and religious activities
• 3.56 hours for leisure and sports
• 0.15 hours for phone calls, mail, and email
• 0.22 hours for other activities

How Men Spend Their Time

An average 24-hour day, full-time employed men spent their time in similar fashion to full-time employed women, with the exception of carving out more minutes for eating and drinking than on household activities.

Specifically, the ATUS data revealed men spend:

• 6.55 hours for working and work-related activities
• 8.99 hours for personal care and sleep
• 1.23 hours for eating and drinking
• 1.21 hours for household activities
• 0.54 hours for purchasing goods and services
• 0.39 hours caring for household members
• 0.17 hours caring for non-household members
• 0.08 hours for educational activities
• 0.18 hours for organizational, civic, and religious activities
• 4.39 hours for leisure and sports
• 0.05 hours for phone calls, mail, and email
• 0.23 hours for other activities

The results from the ATUS report continue to be positive for employers and the workforce. As the number of employed professionals grows, as well as the amount of time they spend working, the U.S. business landscape will evolve to become more inclusive—and even more productive.