Workplace

Americans Are Getting More Shuteye, Men Pick Up Some Slack at Home


Americans are getting more sleep these days. They’re also spending more time on leisure and less time doing housework and shopping, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Americans slept an average of 8 hours and 44 minutes in 2013, about 10 minutes more shuteye than we got in 2003, according to the annual American Time Use Survey released today. Most of those blessed additional minutes are coming on weekends, when U.S. citizens surveyed are getting a luxurious 9 hours and 20 minutes of slumber time.

One explanation may be that fewer people are working. “People who aren’t employed—which includes people who are unemployed, as well as stay-at-home parents and retirees—you see that their sleep times are higher,” says Rachel Krantz-Kent, an economist at BLS.

Americans also spent more time on fun, devoting about 5 hours and 16 minutes a day to watching TV, exercising, and other leisure activities—9 more minutes than a decade ago.

Household chores—cleaning, food prep, mowing the grass—took less time, about 3 fewer minutes on average than the 1 hour and 50 minutes a day spent on those activities in 2003. Americans also spend less time on personal calls, mail and e-mail: just 9 minutes a day last year, compared with 11 minutes in 2003, the data show. Surveying both the employed and unemployed, Americans are working a bit less on average, about 3 hours and 28 minutes per day, or about 14 fewer minutes less than a decade ago. That’s no surprise, given that more people today are unemployed or working part-time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed about 11,400 individuals last year on everything from time spent on homework to eating to mowing the lawn.

Among those who work, there was little change in the amount of hours spent on the job—about 8 hours. Men still work about an hour more a day than women, at 8 hours and 27 minutes, reflecting the larger share of part-time female employees.

Women still bear the brunt of child- and elder-care, but they are spending a little less time on it because men have picked up some of the slack. Women spent an average of 2 hours and 17 minutes per day caring for their families, about 2 minutes less than a decade ago, while men spent an average of 1 hour and 45 minutes on family care, about 6 minutes more than in 2003.

Kopecki is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

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