News In Brief

How did we spend our time in 2009?

Daryl Paranada Jun 23, 2010

The Census Bureau is out with its 2009 American Time Use survey. Literally, how we spend our time.

Here’s the Marketplace angle. While you’d think with so many American having more time on their hands — perhaps due to unemployment — they might turn to other what economists call “productive” activities.

Like, maybe home repairs or cooking. But that’s apparently not true.

Get ready for this: We’re watching more television. And sleeping more.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The average American aged 15 or older spent three hours, 11 minutes a day working in 2009, according to the American Time Use Survey released by the Labor Department on Tuesday. That’s 17 minutes less time a day engaged in work than in 2007, before the recession hit. While 17 minutes might not seem a lot, when it’s averaged over the entire population, including employed people, those who have lost a job and retirees, it represents a significant amount.

What did people do with that extra time? Mainly they slept and watched TV. Time spent in front of the television rose by 12 minutes, to two hours, 49 minutes a day in the two years through 2009. Sleep was the next big gainer, increasing by six minutes to eight hours, 40 minutes a day.

From the survey:

In 2009, employed persons worked an average of 7.5 hours on the days that they worked; they worked longer on weekdays (7.9 hours) than on weekend days (5.0 hours). Eighty-five percent of women and 67 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management on a given day.

Check out our series on long-term unemployment.

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