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How Americans Spend Their Free Time During The Downturn

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Stubbornly persistent unemployment has certainly inflicted more than a little economic stress, but that's not stopping Americans from enjoying their leisure time, according to new government data. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its 2009 results from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). (Hat tip to the The Wall Street Journal.

The average American age 15 or older spent three hours, 11 minutes a day working in 2009. That's 17 minutes shorter per day than in 2007. (This figure accounts for the entire population, including the unemployed and senior citizens.)

So what does the average American do when they're not working?

It wouldn't be technically correct to say Americans were using their free time to do "nothing." The two most popular activities found in the survey, were sleeping and watching television. Americans spent 6 minutes more per day doing the former and 12 minutes more doing the latter compared to 2007.

Watching TV was the one leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), which accounts for about half of leisure time on average.

21 percent of men chose to spend their free time participating in sports, as opposed to 16 percent of women. Men still spent more time doing these leisurely activities than women -- 2.0 hours compared with 1.4 hours.

Sadly, 35 percent of Americans spent time working on an average weekend day. Most of these Americans are actually people with multiple jobs, the government data showed. The BLS reported that multiple jobholders were almost twice as likely to work on an average weekend day than to those who held just one job. The average workday for Americans clocked in at 7.5 hours.

And those unlucky people forced to work on the weekend were doubly unfortunate: their average workday during the week was two to three hours longer than their peers.

Check out the full BLS report here.

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