What is the American Time Use Survey?

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The American Time Use Survey is just one of the surveys that the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts every year. Designed to provide research into the habits of others, it looks at the things that workers do on an average day. This allows the BLS to see whether workers perform duties away from the job, how those who work from home divide their time and whether part-time workers do the same duties as full-time workers do. Also known as the ATUS, it provides the government with detailed employment research.

How It Works

This survey monitors and measures how those living in the United States spend their time every day. Those selected will receive a phone call from an ATUS interviewer. The interviewer will ask questions and record the responses that the individual makes on a computer screen. This makes it easier for interviewers to find relevant questions. If the individual is not married or does not have kids, he or she can skip over questions relating to parents and spouses. The questions found on the survey occasionally changed based on the information needed that year.

Questions Asked

The survey starts with a simple question that allows the person to agree to the survey or turn down the request. It then asks questions designed to verify the name, age and current address of the individual. As this survey works with census records, it will also ask questions about the number of people living in the home and the ages of each person. Those being interviewed must also answer questions about their current employment situations, including where they work and the number of hours they work each week. Other questions deal with what they do every day. They’ll need to state how much time they spend working, sleeping, eating, shopping and even spending time with friends and family.

Types of People Interviewed

Some people assume that the ATUS only looks at those who work in full-time jobs, but it also covers people who are unemployed, work part-time or work from home. The BLS sends out notifications to people based on recent census data that lets them know they will receive a call for an interview. Most of those interviewed have a home telephone or a land line, but if the BLS has access to a cell phone number, it can contact individuals via that number. The ATUS interviews single, married, divorced and widowed people too.

General Findings

The idea behind the American Time Use Survey is that it provides a basic look at how people spend an average day. It looks at the amount of time that recipients spend sleeping, caring for loved ones, working and even traveling. The survey used in 2013 and 2014 found that 61% of those who care for elderly family members at home also work and that 47% of those who care for their elderly loved ones work full-time at their jobs. This represented an increase in the number of people working outside of the home and caring for loved ones since the last report.

Many of the surveys and studies that the Bureau of Labor Statistics does provides research into employment trends. One of the more important surveys that it conducts is the American Time Use Survey, which finds out how those living in America spend their days.

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