Published July 05, 2013
| 24/7 Wall St.
After work and sleep, most Americans have eight hours left of their day to spend as they please. How much time Americans spend watching TV, getting exercise, cleaning and playing sports depends on whether they are men or women, 15 or 64, married or single. While the economy and technology have changed dramatically in the past decade, how Americans spend their time on average has remained largely unchanged.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its 2012 American Time Use Survey. The survey measures the average amount of time Americans spend on different activities in a given day. Personal care, which is mostly taken up by sleep, accounts for the most amount of time each day, followed by leisure activities, including watching TV and playing sports, and work.
Men allocate their time differently than women. On an average day, men spent one hour and 17 minutes on household activities, which include housework, food preparation and lawn care. Meanwhile, women spent two hours and 10 minutes on those activities. Men also spent 36 minutes on a given day purchasing goods or services, while women spent about 50 minutes. Women spent just over 14 minutes a day on recreation, sports and exercise, compared to 24.6 minutes for men. In most of these cases, the difference was primarily because one sex participated more in a given activity.
Time was allocated differently based on age as well. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the time devoted to educational activities was by Americans between the ages of 15 and 24. People over the age of 75 spent more than an hour and a half eating and drinking, while people between the ages of 15 and 24 spent just an hour on that activity. While Americans over the age of 75 spent two hours and 25 minutes on household activities, people between 15 and 19 spent just 40 minutes on them.
Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual American Time Use Survey, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the ways the average person 15 and older spends an average day each week. Weekends are factored into the calculation as well. We also reviewed numbers from the survey by gender, age and those who reported engaging in the activity in a given day.
This is how Americans spend their time when not at work.
8. Organizational, Civic and Religious Activities
> Average time spent: 0.32 hours
> Pct. Americans engage on a given day: 13.8%
Americans spent an average of 19.2 minutes participating in organizational, civic and religious activities on a given day. However, only 13.8% of people engaged in these activities on an average day, and those people spent an average of two hours and 20 minutes participating. This is despite the fact that 79% of Americans are affiliated with a religious group of some sort, according to Pew Research Centers. In addition, the BLS noted that 26.5% of people engaged in volunteering activities between September 2011 and September 2012.
7. Educational Activities
> Average time spent: 0.5 hours
> Pct. Americans engage on a given day: 8.5%
Younger people accounted for the vast majority of time devoted to educational activities. The average person between 15 and 24 spent far more time than anyone else on these activities, with the majority of that time spent during the weekday. Those taking part on any given day spent an average of five hours and 52 minutes doing so. People who actually attended class spent five hours and 10 minutes there, while people who reported doing research and homework spent on average two hours and 45 minutes on their tasks.
6. Caring For and Helping Household Members
> Average time spent: 0.51 hours
> Pct. Americans engage on a given day: 24.5%
More than 80% of the time Americans spent helping members of the household involved taking care of children. Those who cared for children — more than 20% of the adult population — spent an average of almost two hours performing that task. Nearly 25% of women cared for children during an average day, compared to just 15.6% of men. In addition, the women who engaged in this activity spent more time — two hours and eight minutes — on it than men, who spent one hour and 43 minutes caring for children.
5. Purchasing Goods and Services
> Average time spent: 0.72 hours
> Pct. Americans engage on a given day: 41.4%
The average American spent more than 43 minutes buying goods and services, with women spending considerably more time than men on this activity. The time spent purchasing goods and services actually has fallen from 48.6 minutes back in 2003. This could decrease further with the rise in e-commerce, which will reduce visits to brick-and-mortar stores. E-commerce sales alone are expected to rise 13% in 2013 to $262 billion. By 2017, e-commerce is expected to generate $370 billion in sales, or 10% of all retail purchases, up from 8% currently.