NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If you’re out of work, there’s no escaping the fact you have more time on your hands than the masses of employed Americans – probably more than you know what to do with.
The National Bureau of Economic Research took a look at the issue in a white paper titled “Time Use During Recessions.” In it, researchers Mark Aguiar, Erik Hurst and Loukas Karabarbounis looked at business cycles from 2003 to last year, when U.S. unemployment rose to 9.6% from 5.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
They found that, in general, the time spent by the unemployed during a recession breaks down like this:
- Home production/maintenance: 30% to 40%
- Increased sleep: 30%
- Leisure activities: 30%
The NBER cites “leisure activities” as time spent watching television, socializing, exercising and hobbies. The study also includes time spent on medical and health care needs and going to church and other religious activities in this category.
The paper breaks down the numbers a bit as well, finding that 13% of “forgone work hours” are spent on housekeeping (cooking, cleaning and laundry), while 8% is spent on shopping and 6% on child care. Another 5% is spent on education, mainly for career advancement, while 5% is spent on the person’s “own medical care.”
Somewhat surprisingly, the study finds that only 1% of an unemployed person’s time is spent looking for work. “However, this represents a fairly large percentage increase given how little time unemployed workers allocate to job search,” the paper states.
The study is a rare glimpse inside the day of an unemployed American. The main takeaway seems to be this: People who find themselves out of work focus way more time on leisure activities than they do on looking for a job.
What that says about the economy is that times are so tough, many people have done the once unthinkable: stopped looking for work altogether.
Read the full study here.
With so many long-term unemployed facing the end of their benefits, people need to understand their options. Check out MainStreet's What to Do When You Run Out of Money for more.