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How Did Americans Spend Their Covid Time Off?

On Thursday, the BLS released results of it America Time Use Survey. Bloomberg took a look and so did I.
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Work From Home by Degree

More Lawn Care, Less Hair Care: Survey Shows U.S. Pandemic Habit

Bloomberg reports More Lawn Care, Less Hair Care: Survey Shows U.S. Pandemic Habit

For those who kept their jobs, work still dominated waking hours: They spent an average 7.6 hours per day dedicated to it, unchanged from 2019. But on a typical day last year, only 39% of Americans were working -- down from 43% the previous year, after a wave of pandemic layoffs.

Almost half of employed women worked at home -- up 23 percentage points from 2019 -- while among male counterparts, the share rose 16 percentage points to 36%.

How big a reverse of that increase there’ll be in 2021 and after remains to be seen. Many white-collar employers are grappling with the new normal for work, as employees seek flexibility and hybrid schedules. And a spike in delta-variant cases in the U.S. could result in many people continuing to spend more time working from home.

America Time Use Survey

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Inquiring minds may wish to read the BLS Time Use Survey. The report is interesting but the data is over already 7 months old 

Key Findings

  • Average time spent working declined by 17 minutes per day from 2019 to 2020, reflecting a decrease in the share of the population that was employed. On a given day in 2020, 39 percent of the population spent time working, compared with 43 percent of the population in 2019. 
  • As many employers expanded the use of telework, the percent of employed persons working at home on days they worked nearly doubled, rising from 22 percent in 2019 to 42 percent in 2020. On days they worked at home, employed persons did so for an average of 3.6 hours in 2019, compared with 5.8 hours in 2020. These averages include all time spent working at home, whether or not the work was done on a scheduled workday.
  • Workers with higher levels of education were much more likely to work at home in 2020 than were those who had less education.
  • Time spent traveling, such as commuting to work or driving to a store, declined by 26 minutes from an average of 1.2 hours per day in 2019 to 47 minutes per day in 2020. The share of individuals who spent time traveling on a given day declined 17 percentage points in 2020, from 84 percent in 2019 to 67 percent in 2020. Those who spent time traveling on a given day did so for a shorter duration (1.5 hours in 2019, compared with 1.2 hours in 2020).
  • Women spent an average of 1.7 hours per day and men spent an average of 46 minutes per day caring for and helping household children as their main activity in 2020. Women spent 13 minutes per day more in 2020 compared with 2019, while men spent about the same amount of time doing this activity in both years.
  • Adults living in households with at least one child under age 13 averaged 6.1 hours per day providing secondary childcare in 2020—that is, they had at least one child in their care while doing activities other than primary childcare. This was an increase of 1.0 hour from 2019.
  • Individuals ages 15 to 24 spent more time playing games and using a computer for leisure than those who were older in 2020. Those ages 15 to 19 spent an average of 1.9 hours per day playing games and using a computer for leisure (up 39 minutes from 2019) and those ages 20 to 24 averaged 1.4 hours per day in this activity (up 30 minutes per day from 2019).
  • The average time per day that individuals spent shopping—which includes online and in-person shopping—declined by 5 minutes, from 22 minutes per day in 2019 to 17 minutes per day in 2020. Thirty-four percent of those age 15 and over spent time shopping on a given day in 2020, compared with 40 percent in 2019.
  • In 2020, individuals age 55 and over averaged about 8 hours or more per day alone during their waking hours, more than those who were younger. Time spent alone increased by 1.7 hours for those ages 15 to 19 (6.0 hours in 2020, compared with 4.3 hours in 2019).

Anyone with an ounce of common sense could have predicted the direction of all these moves easily. 

Magnitude is another matter, but how relevant is 7 month old data? And why did it take so long to produce the report?