The average American spends 8.6 hours sleeping, a paltry 3.7 hours working, and 5.1 hours devoted to leisure time (and half of that is spent watching television), according to the first national survey of time use conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor.
There's just one catch. Since everyone from teenagers to working parents to retirees were lumped together to define "average," it really doesn't define anyone.
Dig deeper and the numbers are fascinating. The group that works the longest and hardest over the full 24-hour day is, not surprisingly, working parents ages 25 to 54, who spend eight hours a day working or commuting, 7.5 hours sleeping, just 2.6 hours on leisure activities and sport, 1.3 hours caring for others, and 1.1 hours doing housework. The remaining 3.5 hours are spent eating, shopping, and on personal care activities, which includes sex.
The Labor Department's study was based on a telephone survey of 21,000 people over the age of 15 and offers a treasure trove of fun to know and tell statistics. The respondents were asked to describe how they spent all 24 hours during the previous day.
Some fascinating conclusions:
The most telling conclusion is that women really do do more housework than men--even when both partners work fulltime. On an average day, 84 percent of women and 63 percent of men did housework, cooked, cared for the lawn, or managed household finances. Women spent on average 2.3 hours a day doing these household chores, compared with 1.3 hours for men.
Men may not spend as much time dusting and doing dishes, but they put in more time in the office. Men work for pay on average 8 hours a day, compared with 7.1 hours for women. (Women are more likely than men to hold part-time jobs; hence, the difference.)
The average American had 5.1 hours a day for leisure. What do we do with all that time? Half of it was spent watching television. The typical person also spent 41 minutes socializing, 22 minutes reading, 20 minutes on sports or recreation, 20 minutes relaxing and thinking, 17 minutes playing games, often on the computer, and 31 minutes on other leisure activities. Men had more leisure time than women, 5.4 hours compared to 4.8 hours. Parents with children younger than 6 years old had just 4 hours a day of leisure time.
There is a reason working mothers of children under 6 years old are yawning in the middle of the afternoon. They get less sleep than stay-at-home moms, but stay-at-home moms spend nearly twice as much time caring for others and working around the home.