Percentage of People Working from Home | American Time Use Survey Summary
The percent of employed persons working at home on days they worked nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, rising to 42 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Average travel time, such as commuting to work or driving to a store, decreased for all demographic groups. Data about how Americans spent their time during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020 were released today from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Estimates in this news release include the average amount of time per day individuals worked, engaged in leisure and sports activities, provided childcare, traveled, and more. Estimates about where and with whom Americans spent their time also are provided. Estimates in this news release are representative of May 10th through December 31st and highlight 2020 ATUS data collected during the pandemic. For comparison, estimates representative of this same period in 2019 also are shown. BLS selected this period because ATUS data collection was suspended early in the pandemic to protect the safety of interviewers. For a detailed description of ATUS data and methodology, see the Technical Note. Working in May to December 2019 and 2020 --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. (See table 1.) --On days they worked, the amount of time employed persons spent working was about the same in 2019 and 2020--7.7 hours in 2019 and 7.6 hours in 2020. (See table 4.) --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. (See table 4.) --Both men and women were more likely to work at home on days they worked in 2020 compared with 2019. The percent of employed men who worked at home increased by 16 percentage points, from 20 percent in 2019 to 36 percent in 2020, while the percent of women increased by 23 percentage points, from 26 percent in 2019 to 49 percent in 2020. (See table 4.) --Workers with higher levels of education were much more likely to work at home in 2020 than were those who had less education. Among workers age 25 and over, 65 percent of employed persons with a bachelor's degree or higher worked at home on days they worked in 2020 (up from 37 percent in 2019), compared with 19 percent of employed persons whose highest level of education was a high school diploma (up from 13 percent in 2019). (See table 4.) --By industry, from 2019 to 2020, there were large increases in the share of employed persons working at home on days worked for those employed in financial activities (up 40 percentage points); professional and business services (up 25 percentage points); and education and health services (up 23 percentage points). By contrast, there were smaller increases for workers in leisure and hospitality (up 8 percentage points); transportation and utilities (up 9 percentage points); wholesale and retail trade (up 10 percentage points); and manufacturing (up 11 percentage points). (See table 5.) Time Spent Traveling in May to December 2019 and 2020 --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). (See table 1.) --Declines in the average time per day spent traveling were widespread in 2020. The average time spent traveling decreased for all race, ethnicity, sex, and age groups; households with and without children; and individuals who were employed and not employed. (See table 3.) Childcare in May to December 2019 and 2020 --On average, among adults living with children under 18, time spent providing primary childcare on a given day was about the same in 2019 and 2020 (1.2 hours and 1.3 hours per day, respectively). Primary childcare is childcare that is done as a main activity, such as providing physical care or reading to children. (See table 6.) --Fifty-three percent of adults living in households with children provided childcare on a given day in 2020, down from 61 percent in 2019. As in-person school, sports, and other activities were curtailed in 2020, individuals were less likely to spend time picking up and dropping off children, which are classified in the other childcare activities category. As a result, the share of adults engaging in other childcare activities on a given day fell by 13 percentage points in 2020, and contributed to the overall decline in the percent of adults providing childcare on a given day. (See table 6.) --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. (See table 7.) --On days they did education-related activities for household children, adults did so for an average of 1.0 hour in 2019 and 2.2 hours in 2020. Women and men spent the same amount of time doing these education-related activities in 2019 (1.0 hour). However, women spent 46 minutes more than men doing these activities in 2020 (2.4 hours, compared with 1.7 hours). (See tables 6 and 7.) --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. With many children's events canceled and schools switching to virtual learning, the increase in time spent providing secondary childcare was largest for adults in households whose youngest child was ages 6 to 12. These adults spent 1.6 hours more per day providing secondary childcare in 2020 compared with 2019. (See table 8.) --Among adults living in households with children under age 13, in 2020, men averaged 4.9 hours and women averaged 7.1 hours per day providing secondary childcare. Both men and women spent about one hour more per day providing secondary childcare in 2020 compared with 2019 (up 49 minutes for men and 1.1 hours for women). (See table 8.) Leisure Activities in May to December 2019 and 2020 --Average time spent in leisure and sports activities increased by 32 minutes per day, from 5.0 hours in 2019 to 5.5 hours per day in 2020. Leisure time increased by an average of 37 minutes per day for men and 27 minutes for women. This increase partly reflects a decline in average work time as the share of the population that was employed fell during the pandemic, as well as a decrease in the average time individuals spent traveling. (See tables 1 and 2.) --Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time in 2020 (3.1 hours per day), up 19 minutes per day compared with 2019. (See table 9.) --Time spent playing games and using a computer for leisure increased by 10 minutes per day, and time spent relaxing and thinking increased an average of 7 minutes per day in 2020. Time spent socializing and communicating in person declined by an average of 7 minutes per day. (See table 9.) --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). (See table 9.) --Individuals living in households without children under age 18 spent an average of 6.1 hours per day in leisure and sports activities in 2020, compared with 4.4 hours per day for those living in households with children. Compared with 2019, time spent in leisure and sports activities increased by about half an hour per day for each of these groups in 2020 (up 36 minutes for those living in households without children, and up 25 minutes for those living with children). (See table 9.) Household Activities and Consumer Purchases in May to December 2019 and 2020 --Compared with 2019, both men and women spent more time in 2020 doing household activities, such as housework, cooking, lawn care, and household management. Men spent an average of 16 minutes more per day doing these activities in 2020, while women spent 11 minutes more per day. However, men continued to spend less time in these activities in 2020 than did women--1.6 hours versus 2.4 hours. (See table 2.) --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. (See table 1.) Time Spent by Location in May to December 2019 and 2020 --As part of an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, individuals were asked to stay at home. During their waking hours, those age 15 and over spent an average of 2.1 hours per day more at home in 2020 (9.7 hours) than in 2019 (7.6 hours). Women spent about 34 minutes more at home on a given day in 2020 than did men (10.0 hours, compared with 9.4 hours). (See table 10.) --Many restaurants and bars closed indoor dining due to the pandemic, and stores implemented guidelines for safe shopping. On a given day in 2020, 16 percent of individuals age 15 and over spent time at a restaurant or bar, compared with 27 percent in 2019. Twenty-five percent of individuals age 15 and over visited a grocery store, other store, or mall on a given day in 2020, compared with 31 percent in 2019. (See table 10.) Time Spent with Others or Alone in May to December 2019 and 2020 --In 2020, during the pandemic, individuals were encouraged to stay at home and to practice social distancing. During their waking hours, individuals age 15 and over spent an average of 1.0 hour more per day alone in 2020 (7.0 hours) compared with 2019 (6.1 hours). Average alone time increased for all demographic groups, including all age groups, persons living in households with and without children, and others. (See table 11.) --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). (See table 11.) --Individuals living by themselves spent an average of 11.3 hours per day alone in 2020 and 9.7 hours alone in 2019. By comparison, adults living with a child under age 18 averaged less than half as many of their waking hours alone (5.3 hours per day in 2020 and 4.7 hours in 2019). (See table 12.) --In 2020, Americans were advised against interacting with members of other households during the pandemic. On a given day in 2020, 8 percent of the population age 15 and over provided care or assistance to individuals who did not live with them, compared with 11 percent in 2019. On days they provided care to nonhousehold members, those who did so averaged 38 minutes more per day providing this care in 2020 (1.9 hours per day in 2020, compared with 1.3 hours in 2019). (See table 1.) --In 2020, individuals age 15 and over spent more of their waking hours with members of their households than they did in 2019 (4.8 hours per day, compared with 4.5 hours) and fewer waking hours with nonhousehold members (2.9 hours per day, compared with 4.4 hours). (See table 12.) Additional Data ATUS 2020 data files are available for users to do their own tabulations and analyses. In accordance with BLS and Census Bureau policies that protect the privacy of survey respondents, personally identifying information does not appear on the data files. The 2020 data files, with data for all days the survey was conducted, are available on the BLS website at www.bls.gov/tus/data.htm.
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