Using time off

Date posted: December 21, 2011

If someone loses his or her job — as many people have in the last few years — that unemployed person does gain something: time. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden comments on on how the unemployed use their extra time?

“This is a very, very interesting question. It’s one we didn’t really have an answer to until a new study that just came out that used some very unusual data to track this down. And what this … analysis did was … look at (whether) folks who have lost their jobs gain some time because they’re not going to work. The question is, how do they use that extra time?

“And here’s really a run-down: What they found is, of those extra hours that folks now have because they’re not working, they devote about 13 percent of those hours to working around the house, cleaning, cooking, doing laundry. They devote 8 percent to shopping more, 7 percent to home maintenance, and 6 percent to child care.

“Now in terms of doing things to improve themselves so that they perhaps are in a better position to get a job, they devote about 10 percent of their extra hours to self-improvement — for example, taking classes, getting further training in a particular field. Twenty percent of the time they devote to catching up on their sleep, and the rest of the time they devote to free time, leisure time, and socializing.

“So, as you might expect there’s a mix here, but at least we do now have some information on how folks who have been unemployed for a long period of time do use that extra time.”

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