by Hans Eisenbeis
- As of May 2010, 15 million Americans were unemployed (BLS.gov 6.4.10). That’s a lot of idle people, and economists are interested in understanding what they’re doing with all of their downtime.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics actually tracks how Americans spend their time. And the American Time Use Survey for 2009 shows some interesting patterns that reflect the high rate of unemployment: On average, Americans have gained 15 minutes of free time per day. But they aren’t using it to work the phones or wash dishes. The survey finds that Americans are watching 6 minutes more of TV, and sleeping 6 more minutes per day (NYTimes.com 6.23.10).
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- Economists assume that, taken in aggregate, Americans will work more around the house when they have less (or nothing) to do on the job. Seems the Great Recession has reversed that assumption, as Americans catch up on stress-relief.
- Unemployed consumers presumably have a lot more free time than just 15 minutes per day. The Time Use Survey averages time lost or gained across the entire population.