How Americans Spend Their Time

How does your day compare to the average American's? New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey breaks it down. Here’s a quick snapshot of major categories for full-time workers in 2015:

(If you can't view the video above, please click here.)

For days that Americans work, here are some highlights:

  • Employed people spend an average of 7.6 hours on the job.
  • The percentage of workers doing some or all of their work at home has grown from 19 percent in 2003 to 24 percent in 2015. Management, business and financial operations occupations had the highest percentage of people working from home, at 38 percent.
  • Workers age 25 and over who had more education (a bachelor’s degree or higher) were the most likely to do some or all of their work from home, at 39 percent.
Work and work-related activities 8 hours, 46 minutes 8 hours, 28 minutes 8 hours, 58 minutes
Sleeping 7 hours, 53 minutes 7 hours, 55 minutes 7 hours, 51 minutes
Leisure and sports 3 hours, 6 minutes 2 hours, 46 minutes 3 hours, 20 minutes
Eating and drinking 1 hour, 5 minutes 1 hour, 1 minute 1 hour, 8 minutes
Housework 58 minutes 1 hour, 16 minutes 46 minutes
Caring for household members 25 minutes 29 minutes 23 minutes
Shopping 28 minutes 35 minutes 23 minutes

*For people employed full time on days they worked, 2015. 

While these averages have shifted over the years, there are still some notable differences between how men and women use their time.

  • On a typical day, 85 percent of women and 67 percent of men spent time doing work around the house, such as cleaning, cooking and lawn care. These numbers have stayed relatively consistent over the years.
  • From 2003 to 2015, the percentage of men doing food preparation or cleanup at home increased from 35 percent to 43 percent. But women still spend more time in the kitchen; in 2015, 70 percent of women did food preparation and cleanup work on a typical day.
  • From 2011 to 2015, women with a child under age 6 spent 1 hour providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child). In comparison, men spent 25 minutes on an average day providing that same care.

The survey captures much more detailed information than is presented here. For example, the primary way most Americans relax is by watching television, at 2.8 hours per day. For people 15 and older, watching TV accounted for more than half their leisure time. The next most common way to unwind? Hanging out with friends or heading to a social event took up 41 minutes per day, on average.

Explore all of the data at And let us know if this looks like your average day!

Megan Kindelan is a public affairs specialist for the Labor Department at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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