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Handbook of Methods American Time Use Survey Presentation

American Time Use Survey: Presentation

Each year since 2004, BLS has published news releases containing time-use estimates from the previous year’s survey. In addition, BLS occasionally publishes news releases on special topics, such as married parents’ use of time (Married Parents’ Use of Time, 2003–06); workers’ access to, and use of, leave (Access to and Use of Leave—2011 Data from the American Time Use Survey); and time spent providing eldercare (Unpaid Eldercare in the United States—Data from the American Time Use Survey). All annual and special news releases are available on the ATUS website. The releases include descriptive highlights and several tables of time-use estimates. The ATUS website also contains charts showing different uses of ATUS data, tables of detailed time use by year and for specific populations, time series data available from LABSTAT, and a list of papers that have used ATUS data.

In addition to appearing as published estimates, ATUS data are compiled in numerous unpublished tables that show time use for selected subpopulations. These tables include data on time use for various combinations of an individual’s demographic characteristics, marital status, employment status, educational attainment, geographic location, and the presence and age of household children. These unpublished tables are available in PDF format upon request by emailing the ATUS staff at

Files containing ATUS microdata are published annually, along with documentation about the files. Microdata files and documentation also are created and published for ATUS modules. The microdata files contain respondents’ answers to the survey questions, as well as characteristics about the respondent and his or her household. These data are intended for users who wish to do their own tabulations and analyses. Both single- and multiyear ATUS microdata files are available. The single-year files contain data for interviews conducted in a 1-year period; the multiyear files contain data for many years, with some adjustments made to account for changes that occurred over those years. For example, some activity codes have been adjusted to account for changes to the activity lexicon over the years. The files are released in comma-delimited formats and are downloadable for free from the ATUS website. Also provided are SAS, Stata, and SPSS programs to read the data into these statistical software packages. In accordance with BLS and U.S. Census Bureau policies that protect respondents’ privacy, identifying fields were removed from the data and some responses were edited to protect the confidentiality of ATUS respondents.

If an error is found in a published ATUS news release, the publication is corrected and republished. Corrected news releases clearly note that a correction was made. A record of the error is added to the list of BLS errata, and data users who have signed up to receive notifications from the ATUS are alerted via email. If an error is identified in a published microdata file, a notification is posted to the relevant ATUS webpages and sent to data users via email. Notifications also are sent via email when the problem has been resolved. All relevant documentation is updated, and, if appropriate, new webpages are created to document the error and its correction.

Last Modified Date: August 13, 2018