Time, and how we use
it, is the subject of the newest survey from the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics. One conclusion: time use varies by age.
The American Time Use Survey counts the
hours that people in the United States devote to sleep, paid
work, and leisure and other activities. As the charts show,
15- to 24-year-olds differed from 25- to 34-year-olds in the
way that they spent their time on weekdays in 2003. People
in the younger age group spent most of their waking hours on
leisure and sports activities, for example, while work
dominated daytime pursuits for the older group. And
educational activities consumed much more of the younger
The data in these charts are averages, so
they mask some variations within the groups. For example,
15-year-olds spend much of their weekdays in school, and
24-year-olds are more likely to be working than going to
school. But educational activity is understated for youths
because the data are averages for all respondents and
because the data include hours reported for all weekdays—not
just those during the school year.
The survey gathers data drawn from telephone
interviews questioning respondents about their activities on
the previous day. This information is then coded into more
than 400 activity categories that can be analyzed in a
number of ways, including by respondents’ sex, employment
status, and education level. For more information, call the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, (202) 691-6339, or
visit the American Time Use Survey on the Web at www.bls.gov/tus/home.htm.