Data on display
Senior shift: Activities change as we age

| May 2017

What did older Americans do all day in 2015? And how did that differ from the way other Americans spent their time?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Americans ages 65 and older spent two-thirds of their day sleeping and participating in leisure and sports activities. That’s somewhat more time, on average, than people ages 15 and older spent resting and relaxing. (See illustration.)

Rest and recreation

In addition to spending more hours sleeping and on leisure activities and sports, older people passed the time differently in other ways. The chart shows average hours per day that people spent on other primary activities in 2015. Work, caring for household members, and education occupied less time per day for people ages 65 and older than it did for most people. Instead, older Americans spent relatively more time on pursuits such as organizational, civic, and religious activities than did the overall population. Click on the bars to see the activity hours for two older age groups: people ages 65 to 74 and those ages 75 and older.

These data are from the BLS American Time Use Survey. This annual survey measures the amount of time people spend doing various activities. Data show averages by age, employment status, educational attainment, and other characteristics.

Kathleen Green is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at green.kathleen@bls.gov.

Suggested citation:

Kathleen Green, "Senior shift: Activities change as we age," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017.

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