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American Time Use Survey

ATUS Database Access Tips

This page provides guidance for extracting time-use data series from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) through LABSTAT, the Bureau of Labor Statistics public database. Each of the available extraction tools for ATUS is described and instructions are provided.

The ATUS database webpage provides access to all the extraction tools, and can be found on the left-side navigation bar, under Browse ATUS.

The ATUS database contains mainly annual and some quarterly data series. The series correspond to the estimates presented in the annual ATUS News Release and the A-1 and A-2 tables. None of the ATUS estimates or data series are seasonally adjusted. To generate your own estimates using the ATUS microdata files, please visit the How to use ATUS microdata files page.

Data Extraction Tools

Top Picks

This option provides a set of frequently requested ATUS statistics.

  1. From the ATUS database page, click on the Top Picks icon.

  2. Click on the checkbox next to each data series of interest.

  3. Click the Retrieve Data button. The selected data series will then be displayed on a new page.

The number of years, table format, and output type can be changed by selecting More Formatting Options, in the upper right side of the displayed output.

Historical Tables

This option provides historical time series corresponding to estimates appearing on the annual ATUS news release and A-1 and A-2 tables. It is a convenient way to extract historical data for those who may already be familiar with or interested in these estimates.

  1. From the ATUS database page, under the header Historical Tables, select a Tables icon associated with the ATUS Historical News Release Tables, Historical A-1 Tables, or Historical A-2 Tables. Each link will provide a list of tables associated with the News Release, Table A-1, or Table A-2.

  2. After clicking on one of the Historical Tables icons, a new window containing a list of tables with links will open. Click on one of the table links. A template of the table will now appear with selection boxes where estimates normally appear in a given year.

  3. Check the boxes corresponding to data series of interest to you. Each box corresponds to a single data series.

  4. Click the Retrieve data button on the bottom of the page. The selected series will then be displayed on a new page.

One-Screen Data Search

This tool lets users query the ATUS database for specific data series.

  1. From the ATUS database page, click on the One Screen icon.

  2. Make a selection for each characteristic in the order listed.

  3. After choosing the series, click on the Add to selection button. If you need more data series, repeat the steps of choosing the data series you need.

  4. After you've finished finding the data series you need, click on the Get Data button to retrieve the data, and an HTML table with data for the most recent 10 years will display.

See the ATUS One-Screen Data Search Tutorial for more detailed instructions.

Series Report

If you already know the series ID for the data you want, this option allows you to extract those series directly. Multiple series can be entered and retrieved at one time by using the series report tool.

  1. From the ATUS database page, click on the Series Report link to open this data retrieval tool. A new page will open with the Series Report tool.

  2. Enter the series ID(s) in the text box. You can find additional information about the ATUS series IDs by clicking on the Series ID Formats link.

  3. After entering the series ID(s) in the box, click on the Next button. The next page shows different formatting options, years, and output types available and the data series IDs selected in the previous step.

  4. Click the Retrieve Data button. The selected series will then be displayed on a new page.

Flat Files

Use this option to download text files from the database. This option is useful if large amounts of data are needed. The Flat files directory contains all the estimates and series IDs for all periods available through LABSTAT. Information about the files in this directory is in the tu.txt file in the same directory.

  1. From the ATUS database page, click on the Text Files icon. The download page for the ATUS Flat files will open.

  2. The tu.txt file describes all the files in this directory.

  3. The files and contain the data for all ATUS data series available on LABSTAT.

  4. The tu.series file contains the series ID, the series title, and characteristics of each series. The titles of the data series describe all characteristics relevant to each data series.

Additional information about ATUS data series available from LABSTAT

Most data series available from the database are easily found by using the Historical Tables, One-Screen Data Search, or Top Picks tools. Some additional data series are available from the Flat files directory or by using the Series Report tool. Without knowing what to look for, finding data series of interest can be time-consuming. ATUS staff are available to answer questions and help users find data series that are available, but may be difficult to find. Contact information is available at Contact ATUS.

All estimates available as time series use the ATUS 2006 statistical weighting method to ensure comparability over time. Some series available from LABSTAT may contain data that differ slightly from previously published estimates in the news releases, which were published using different weighting methods. (For more information about the ATUS statistical weights, see Chapter 7 of the ATUS User's Guide.) Cell suppression methods vary over time. All data series associated with the A-1 and A-2 tables use the ATUS 2010 cell suppression method for all years. Data series appearing on news release tables use different cell suppression methods, depending on when they were produced.

Standard errors are provided for ATUS estimates from LABSTAT. Care should be taken when evaluating potential trends or cycles across time periods, as seeming differences may not be statistically significant. Standard errors provide a measure of accuracy of an estimate.


Last Modified Date: January 24, 2022