How Americans Spend Their Day: Less Work, More Sleep And TV

Tyler Durden's picture

It was about a year ago when we were surprised to learn that when it comes to spending their average day, American adults (15+, male and female), the typical American spent just over 3 hours per day working, less than the time allotted to eating/drinking and watching TV. The most time-consuming activity, not surprisingly, was sleep, taking up just over a third of the day, following by leisure and sports to which Americans devote over 5 hours a day.

This week the BLS released its latest "American Time Use Survey" and unlike last year, this time we were not surprised to learn that not only are Americans far more preoccupied with sleeping and watching TV than working, but they have never slept more and worked less in the past decade. Perhaps in addition to obesity, the ongoing deterioration in the fundamentals of the US economy, already crushed by the Fed's central planning capital misallocation, may have something to do with this latest disturbing trend. Just perhaps.

The hourly breakdown of typical activities the average American engaged in during 2013:

 

The WSJ, when looking at the numbers, reaches the same conclusion: "Americans slept more and worked less last year, reflecting an economy that remains groggy after the recession and an older population with more time to rest."

How has the average US day changed over the past decade:

The trend is ugly, and it's getting worse:

Averaging together both weekdays and weekends, Americans older than 14 slept for eight hours, 44 minutes and conducted work-related activities for three hours, 28 minutes each day, according to the Labor Department's annual American Time Use Survey, released Wednesday. That is 14 minutes less work a day and 10 minutes more sleep than when the survey began a decade earlier, and a bit less work and more sleep than in 2012. 

 

Americans have tended to sleep a bit more and work a bit less each year in the past decade. But the deep recession from 2007 until 2009 appeared to have accelerated the trends.

So if they aren't working what are they doing? Watching TV.

According to the survey, Americans' No. 1 hobby remains watching television. In 2013, respondents said they spent an average of two hours, 46 minutes a day watching TV, 11 minutes more than in 2003 but down slightly from the previous year.

As John P. Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, correctly observes,  "The data defies popular expectations. People say they're too busy for leisure and don't have time to sleep, but that seems not to be the case."

Americans lying about their daily routine? Unpossible.

The numbers are collected from about 11,400 individuals via phone interviews where participants are asked to reconstruct a diary of the previous day. Participants are selected to ensure estimates are nationally representative, the Labor Department said.

WSJ's conclusion: "It is difficult to grasp precisely why people have shifted how they spend their days. But demographics and economics play a large role."

Actually, it's not that difficult at all, and the following chart showing the number of hours spent sleeping (a cycle high), compared a work (a cycle low) shows pretty much all you need to know.

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, this is hardly surprising.

However, perhaps what is most interesting, and what is best known by a regime whose survival 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.

 

Some of the more stunning details from the BLS study:

Employed persons worked an average of 7.6 hours on the days they worked. More hours were worked, on average, on weekdays than on weekend days—7.9 hours compared with 5.5 hours.

 

On the days they worked, employed men worked 53 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 7.7 hours.

 

On the days they worked, 83 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at their workplace and 23 percent did some or all of their work at home. They spent more time working at the workplace than at home—7.9 hours compared with 3.0 hours.

 

Multiple jobholders were more likely to work on an average day than were single jobholders— 77 percent compared with 67 percent.

 

Household Activities in 2013

 

On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.1 hours.

 

On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework—such as cleaning or doing laundry—compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-two percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 68 percent of women.

 

Leisure Activities in 2013

 

On an average day, nearly everyone age 15 and over (95 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Of those who engaged in leisure activities, men spent more time in these activities (5.9 hours) than did women (5.2 hours).

 

Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for more than half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over. Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity, accounting for 43 minutes per day.

 

Time spent reading for personal interest and playing games or using a computer for leisure varied greatly by age. Individuals age 75 and over averaged 1.0 hour of reading per weekend day and 20 minutes playing games or using a computer for leisure. Conversely, individuals ages 15 to 19 read for an average of 4 minutes per weekend day and spent 52 minutes playing games or using a computer for leisure.