Fact Sheet (PDF)


  • The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) provides nationally representative estimates of how, where, and with whom Americans spend their time, and is the only federal survey providing data on the full range of nonmarket activities, from childcare to volunteering.

  • ATUS data files are used by researchers to study a broad range of issues; the data files include information collected from over 70,000 interviews conducted from 2003 to 2007.

  • ATUS data files can be linked to data files from the Current Population Survey (CPS). This expands the context in which time-use data can be analyzed and saves taxpayer money because fewer questions must be asked in the ATUS interview.


Economic research

  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis has used ATUS data to measure the value of unpaid work, including volunteering, child care, and household activities.

  • Researchers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics have examined the time Americans spend working at home and how this additional work time can be used to enhance traditional measures of worker productivity.

  • Because they are collected continuously, ATUS data have been used to measure changes in the time Americans spend working, doing household production, and in leisure at different points in a business cycle.

Health and safety

  • The Bureau of Transportation Statistics has used ATUS data to measure exposure to vehicle accident risk.

  • The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics uses ATUS data as a "use of time indicator" in the publication, Older Americans: Key Indicators of Well-Being.

  • The Economic Research Service at the Department of Agriculture is using ATUS data to examine eating and drinking patterns and how they relate to a person's overall health. They also are using ATUS data to look at how Americans use food assistance programs.

  • Sleep researchers have used ATUS data to measure the tradeoffs Americans make between sleep, work, commuting, and other activities, and how they relate to overall health.

  • ATUS data on how much time people spend alone or with others can be used to study social isolation in different groups.

Family and work-life balance

  • Researchers use ATUS data to estimate how much time mothers and fathers spend with their children, and how it has changed over time.

  • ATUS researchers study how working parents find the time to balance the demands of childcare, work, leisure, and other activities in their lives.

  • ATUS data show how different groups of Americans spend their leisure time, such as watching television, socializing with their neighbors, and exercising.

International comparisons

  • ATUS data were recently published in the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report 2007/2008. (Disclaimer: Links to non-BLS Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.) This report compares time use in the United States with time use in other countries across different demographic groups and sheds light on how Americans' well-being is different from those in other nations.

  • ATUS data were also provided to the United Nations' Gender Statistics Database. The database allows researchers to generate time-use estimates across different countries and demographic groups. These data help researchers better understand the roles that men and women play in society in different countries.

  • ATUS data were included in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Society at a Glance: OECD Social Indicators 2006.


National media

National newspapers, magazines, television shows, and radio programs regularly use ATUS data to inform the public.

Academic journals

Although ATUS data have only been available to the public since 2005, a wealth of papers and professional research has been published in a variety of fields. This research has been published in many academic publications, including the following:

  • American Economic Review
  • American Journal of Agricultural Economics
  • Demography
  • Journal of Economic Perspectives
  • Industrial Relations
  • Journal of Human Resources
  • Journal of Labor Economics
  • Science
  • Journal of Sleep
  • Journal of Physical Activity and Health
  • Quarterly Journal of Economics
  • Journal of Marriage and Family

A more complete listing of papers and publications is also available.


Published estimates

  • ATUS news releases include tables of time-use estimates.

  • Other ATUS time-use estimates are also available.

  • Charts with estimates detailing how students and older Americans spend their time are available, as are charts that show how Americans spend time engaged in various activities such as working, providing childcare, and sleeping.

Unpublished estimates

Unpublished tables of time-use estimates by age, ethnicity, employment status, educational attainment, marital status, presence and age of household children, and other categories are available upon request by e-mailing the ATUS staff.

Producing your own estimates

Researchers can produce their own time-use estimates using the ATUS data files that are available for free download. For more detailed information on generating estimates using ATUS data, How to use ATUS microdata files provides guidance.

Contact Us:

Email:   ATUS staff
Telephone number:   (202) 691-6339
Fax number:   (202) 691-6426
Postal address:   American Time Use Survey
2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Suite 4675
Washington, DC 20212-0001


Last Modified Date: August 4, 2008