Sorry, I don't have time

Aug. 31, 2009
America's leisure time is shrinking by 10 hours per week, a new low, and how we spend that time is changing too.

America's leisure time is shrinking by 10 hours per week, a new low, and how we spend that time is changing too. These are the latest results from The Harris Poll, which has been tracking America's leisure time since 1973. Harris Interactive surveyed 1,010 adults, by telephone between October 16 and 19, 2008 and found: The median number of leisure hours available each week dropped 20 percent in 2008, from 20 hours in 2007, to an all-time low of only 16 hours this year. This continues a trend, which has seen America's median weekly leisure time shrink 10 hours - from 26 hours per week in 1973. The biggest changes in how people use their precious leisure time is in TV watching (up 6 points), exercise (up 3 points) and spending time with family and kids (up 3 points); Since 1995 the largest changes in how people are spending their leisure time are exercising (up 6 points), computer activities (up 5 points), spending time with family and kids (up 5 points) and swimming (down 5 points). Three in ten (30 percent) respondents say their favorite activity is reading (up from 29 percent in 2007) while 24 percent say it is TV watching and 17 percent spend time with family and kids (up from 14 percent in 2007). Rounding out the top five leisure time activities are exercise (8 percent) and computer activities and fishing (each at 7 percent). The median amount of time spent working, including housekeeping and studying, is now at 46 hours per week, up slightly from 45 hours in 2007. In 1973, when this question was first asked, the median was 41 hours a week; Generation Xers (those aged 32-43) work the most hours (55 each week), followed by 50 hours each week for Echo Boomers (aged 18-31) and Baby Boomers (44-62). As many Matures are retired, they are only working 15 hours each week. In 2008, Americans increased their workweek by one hour, yet claim to have lost four hours of leisure time. Where did the rest of the time go? Harris has a theory. As the American economic situation worsened, people who were worried about their jobs spent more time "just checking in" via computer or wireless device. While respondents didn't consider this as time spent working, they also didn't count it as leisure time and landing instead in a nebulous grey area.

I'm ready to head off on vacation until September 21 and will spend my leisure time visiting Spain and Portugal to check out food trends. Gee, is that leisure time or work?

For more Harris Leisure details, check out

Meantime, you can spend some quality time with our in-house mommy blogger Erin Erickson, who will delight you with her insight at Erin's Edibles voyage!

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