How Americans living in different parts of the country chose to spend the limited number of hours in a day can vary a lot. Southerners tend to devote more time to religious activities or civic organizations. Out West, residents are engaged in more sports and recreation.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s American Time Use Survey tracks how people choose to spend their time across a number of categories. When the data is broken down to the state level, a few outliers emerge, underscoring differences in how residents are spending their time.
We’ve compiled a series of maps illustrating data for each state. Estimates represent the average daily time, in hours, that survey respondents reported being engaged in various categories of activities from 2010 through 2014. (See note below for a further explanation of the data.)
Organizational, Civic and Religious Activities
This category, which includes time spent in church and volunteering, can be used to approximate the extent to which citizens are engaged in civic or religious organizations.
As one would expect, Americans most occupied with these activities live in the “Bible Belt” or in Utah, home to a large Mormon population. By contrast, those in northeastern states don’t spend nearly as much time with civic or religious organizations on average.
NOTE: Estimates not published for Alaska, Montana and Vermont. SOURCE: BLS American Time Use Survey: 2010-2014 averages Eating/Drinking Vermonters spend an average of 1.3 hours per day eating and drinking, the most of any state. States on the opposite end of the spectrum are primarily concentrated in the South.
Data reflects all time spent eating or drinking regardless of location (including meals at home), except when completed as part of a work or volunteer activity.
SOURCE: BLS American Time Use Survey: 2010-2014 averages Caring for Household Members In some states, residents spend significantly more time engaged in childcare activities. This time use category also reflects assistance provided to adult household members, such as medical or physical care.
Part of the differences shown for this and other time use activities are explained by demographics. Utah’s median age is the lowest of any state, for instance, so there are more children to care for.
SOURCE: BLS American Time Use Survey: 2010-2014 averages NOTE: Estimate not published for Wyoming Working and Work-Related Activities This broad definition of work considers the amount of time people spend engaged in income-generating activities, including tasks related to work (business lunches) or time spent looking for a job. Because estimates include those not working, the reported averages are lower than they would be for only employed workers.
SOURCE: BLS American Time Use Survey: 2010-2014 averages Sports, Exercise, Recreation Residents of western states tend to spend more of their time exercising, participating in or watching sports and recreation.
SOURCE: BLS American Time Use Survey: 2010-2014 averages Travel The amount of time Americans spend traveling in a given day depends on a range of factors, from proximity to work and various amenities to traffic congestion. Commuting to and from work accounts for the majority of time individuals spend traveling.
Of course, this further varies greatly across individual regions within a state.
SOURCE: BLS American Time Use Survey: 2010-2014 averages Data notes Estimates refer to average numbers of hours per day spent on an activity for all days of the week. All individuals ages 15 and older are considered, regardless of whether they spend any time on an activity. People who are unemployed or retired, for example, report spending zero hours working, pushing down overall averages dramatically.
Data is not published for a few states for activities with an insufficient number of survey responses.