Creative Trend: Busy, Busy, Busy

Posted on 12/29/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Americans’ available leisure time has dropped by 20% since last year, according to The Harris Poll, which has been tracking such data since 1973. How people spend their time is also changing.

With only 16 hours of leisure time per week, this year’s results represent an all-time low. Harris Interactive researchers see this as a continuation of a downward trend: in 1973, people reported having 26 hours of available leisure time.

The large year-over-year decline is, perhaps, unsurprising in light of the country’s economic conditions; people concerned about their financial future are likely to work more and play less. Though The Harris Poll found that respondents’ work-time has increased by only one hour since 2007, to 46 hours per week, researchers point out that people lost four hours of leisure time and theorize that this discrepancy is due to a rising level of “checking in:” people worried about their jobs using computers and mobile devices during off hours to log in remotely. Harris said survey respondents did not consider such activities as either work or leisure.

Generation X is working the hardest. Those aged between 32 and 43 are working the most hours: 55 per week. Echo Boomers (aged 18–31) and Baby Boomers (44–62) are spending 50 hours per week on work. In 1973, the median number of work hours was 41.

Changes in how people are using their precious off hours are also relatively predictable, with free or low-cost activities beating out paid entertainment. The biggest year-over-year changes are in watching television, up by 6%, and exercise and family time, each up by 3%. Exercising and spending time with family are also the largest increases from a macro perspective, up by a respective 6% and 5% since 1995.

TV watching is the favorite leisure activity of a quarter of the population, but reading, according to 29% of The Harris Poll respondents, surpasses it. Spending time with family, exercise, computer activities and fishing round out the top five leisure-time favorites. Notably, four out of five of these leisurely pursuits are solitary.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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