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Here’s How Americans Spend Their Working, Relaxing and Parenting Time

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday released the 2014 results from the American Time Use Survey. The survey offers the most detailed, up-to-date portrait of how people in the United States spend their time. Here are five of the most striking results, nearly all of which have persisted at near identical rates for the past five years:

Americans still spend more time watching TV than all other leisure activities combined:

Americans average 5.3 hours of leisure time per day (4.8 hours on weekdays and 6.5 hours on weekends and holidays) and over half that is spent in front of the television. Socializing and communicating is the next most popular activity and is the only one to nearly double on weekends (35 minutes on weekdays, 61 minutes on weekends).


Better-educated workers still have more freedom to work from home:

Thirty-nine percent of workers with a bachelor’s degree worked from home on an average day in 2014. They were more than twice as likely as workers who attended college but didn’t earn a bachelor’s to enjoy this flexibility (18 percent of workers who did not graduate from college or graduated with an associate’s degree worked from home). Only 14 percent of high school graduates and 12 percent of workers without a high school diploma worked from home on an average day.

Few Americans volunteer, but the ones who do put in a lot of time:

Only 15 percent of Americans spend any time in an average day on organizational, civic or religious activities, but the people who do participate commit a hefty chunk of their time: 2 hours and fifteen minutes per day. Women are more likely than men to commit part of their day to community activities (17 percent of women engage in organizational, civic or religious activities on a given day compared to 12 percent of men). Religious activities are slightly more common than secular commitments (9 percent of Americans spent some time during an average day on religious or spiritual activities while 7 percent set aside time for organizational or civic volunteering).

Women still do a disproportionate share of parenting:

In 2014, 21 percent of Americans spent part of their day caring for the children in their household, and women spent about 30 percent more time parenting than men did (2 hours, 10 minutes per day for women, one hour, 35 minutes per day for men). Those averages minimize the gap a little — they compare men and women who spend any time taking care of children, and men are much more likely than women to not do any child care at all (84 percent of men spend no time taking care of children, but only 74 percent of women can say the same).

But there’s one part of child care that no group spends much time doing:

From 2010 to 2014, parents had deliberate conversations with their children for, on average, only 3 minutes a day, and they read to their kids for 2.4 minutes per day (about one picture book’s worth). Conversation with children helps spur language development, and several states run programs for low-income families, who may have less time at home, to help them engage their children and close the word gap.

Leah Libresco is a former news writer for FiveThirtyEight.