While BLS has long produced statistics about the labor market, such as employment, hours, and earnings, the ATUS marks the first time that a federal statistical agency has produced estimates on how Americans spend another critical resource--their time. The ATUS collects data on the activities people do during the day and how much time they spend doing them.
Some highlights from the ATUS include:
To compile the ATUS, the Census Bureau interviewed of about 21,000 individuals beginning in January 2003. Respondents were interviewed only once and reported their activities for the 24-hour period from 4 a.m. on the day before the interview until 4 a.m. on the day of the interview--their "diary day." If respondents reported doing more than one activity at a time, they were asked to identify which activity was primary. Activities were then grouped into categories for analysis.
On an average day in 2003, nearly everyone (96 percent) age 15 and over reported some sort of leisure or sports activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Including the small proportion of the population that reported no leisure activities, men spent more time doing leisure activities (5.4 hours) than women (4.8 hours).
Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time, accounting for about half of leisure time on average for both men and women. Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity, accounting for about three-quarters of an hour per day for both sexes.
Speaking of sex, that activity was counted as a "personal care" category, rather than a leisure activity, and not reported in the survey.
[Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics]