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Daily time use among men and women in 2012

June 27, 2013

On an average day in 2012, people age 15 and over spent 8.7 hours each day sleeping. Men spent 8.6 hours per day sleeping, while women spent 8.9 hours, on average. Nearly everyone age 15 and over engaged in some sort of leisure activity on average day, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Overall, people spent 5.4 hours each day on leisure activities, on average; men spent more time in these activities (5.8 hours) than did women (5.0 hours).


Average time spent in primary activities per day, by sex, 2012
Primary activity(1)TotalMenWomen

Total, all activities(2)


Other activities, not elsewhere classified

Telephone calls, mail, and e-mail

Caring for and helping nonhousehold members

Organizational, civic, and religious activities


Educational activities


Caring for and helping household members


Purchasing goods and services


Personal care activities, not including sleeping


Eating and drinking


Household activities


Working and work-related activities


Leisure and sports




(1) A primary activity refers to an individual's main activity. Other activities done simultaneously are not included.
(2) All major activity categories include related travel time.

NOTE: Data refer to persons 15 years and over.


Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day, overall), accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over. Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity, accounting for 44 minutes per day.

Overall, people spent 3.5 hours each day on work and work-related activities on an average day in 2012.  Men spent more time on work and work-related activities than women; 4.2 hours compared to 2.9 hours per day. 

On average, women spent 2.2 hours on household activities, while men spent 1.3 hours. Women spent 54 minutes doing housework (such as cleaning or doing laundry) and 45 minutes doing food preparation and cleanup, compared with men's 17 minutes of housework and another 17 minutes on food preparation or cleanup. 

On an average day, among all persons age 15 and over, women spent 40 minutes providing care to household members (children or adults); by contrast, men spent 21 minutes providing care.

These data are from the American Time Use Survey. For more information, see "American Time Use Survey — 2012 Results" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-13-1178. Note that these averages include all persons in the civilian population age 15 and over, both those who engaged in a given activity and those who did not.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Daily time use among men and women in 2012 at (visited May 24, 2024).

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