How The Average American Adult Spends 24 Hours Each Day

Tyler Durden's picture

It may come as a surprise to some that when distributed across all American adults (15+, male and female), including weekends, the average American spent just 3.57 hours out of every 24 on work and work-related activities in 2011, according to the BLS' American Time Survey. The number one time consuming activity? Sleep, at 8.71 hours (an all time high for the series), followed by Leisure and Sports with 5.21 hours in second place. The balance of the 6.51 hours remaining? 1.77 hours for Household Activities, 1.24 for Eating and Drinking, and so on, until we hit less than half an hour (0.47 hours) spent on education activities. At least the average time spent on telephone calls, mail and email is not more than the amount of time Americans spend edumacating themselves.

Americans may be working less, but at least they are sleeping more than ever.

Of course, the above does not mean that the average working American's day job lasts only from 9am until 12:45pm. Once again, this is simply an averaging across all Americans, including that half that does no paid work, as well as those who do part-time work while factoring weekend time off. With work an ever more sensitive topic for everyone from Obama to the Fed, this is how the BLS breakdown the hourly workload data:

  • On days that they worked, employed persons spent an average of 7.6 hours working. More hours were worked, on average, on weekdays than on weekend days—8.0 hours compared with 5.7 hours.
  • On the days that they worked, employed men worked 47 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 longer than women—8.3 hours compared with 7.8 hours.
  • Many more persons worked on weekdays than on weekend days: 82 percent of employed persons worked on an average weekday, compared with 35 percent on an average weekend day. These estimates include individuals who worked on days they were not normally scheduled to work. For example, the 35 percent of workers who worked on a weekend day includes those whose jobs are typically scheduled on weekends, as well as those who usually work on weekdays but spent time working on the weekend.
  • On the days that they worked, 21 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at home, and 85 percent did some or all of their work at their workplace. Men and women were about equally likely to do some or all of their work at home.
  • Multiple jobholders were more likely to work on an average weekend day than were single jobholders—57 percent compared with 33 percent. Multiple jobholders were also more likely to work at home than single jobholders—31 percent compared with 20 percent.
  • Self-employed workers were three times more likely than wage and salary workers to have done some work at home on days worked—56 percent compared with 18 percent.
  • On the days that they worked, 36 percent of employed persons age 25 and over with a bachelor's degree or higher did some work at home, compared with only 11 percent of those with less than a high school diploma.

Sure they did: how else are they going to pay off those tens of thousands in college loans.

Select additional data in chart format:

Percent of population who worked on weekdays and weekend days

Percent of employed persons who worked at home on an average day

Percent of employed persons who worked at home on an average day, by education level

Percent of employed persons who did selected activities on workdays by hour of day


So less work more sleep: with increasing automation, an ever older population and an economy that is still mired in a deep depression only masked by the global central planners' attempts at reflating asset prices and generating a "confidence boosting" wealth effect for some, and welfare for others, the this is hardly surprising.

However, perhaps what is most interesting, and what is best known by a regime whose survivial depends on preserving confidence in the system, is that as a result of all of the above, the amount of time spent by Americans and by the entire developed, if insolvent, world in front of the TV, is now at an all time high. Here is Goldman's take on this phenomenon:

From a media perspective, older demographics watch more TV but advertisers are keener on younger audiences – in particular young males with disposable incomes. We believe that this could change, as older demographics are more tech savvy and engage with social media and innovations such as second screen applications. As targeted advertising becomes more widespread, advertisers may come to value older demographics more. BSkyB is in the process of implementing Ad-Smart, a targeted advertising service which marries subscriber data with bought-in public records and credit data. This should allow advertisers to serve different commercials to individual households.

There's that. And there is also the much simpler question of pure propaganda blasting at everyone 24/7 on some 1000 cable channels.

So that takes care of the "circuses". As for the "bread"? Well, as we learned earlier, eat moar insects.