How Do the (Un)Employed Spend Their Time?

Wow, some of the newfangled presentations produced out there today by the media are downright amazing — not to mention highly enlightening, in terms of the data they display and the interactive ways in which you can manipulate it.

For example, a connection of mine recently alerted me to the fascinating little interactive chart you’ll find here courtesy of the New York Times.  This chart, and the article that accompanies it, are based on the 2008 “American Time Use Survey” where thousands of Americans (over the age of 15) were asked to track how they spent every minute of each day for a given period of time.  This is pretty interesting stuff, in its own right, but the part of this that’s particularly relevant to THIS blog is the feature of the chart that lets you click to view the different time usage by folks in different age brackets, racial groups, genders, and (the pertinent part) employment status.  How do unemployed people, in other words, spend their time differently than their employed counterparts?  Try some experimentation with this feature, because it’s pretty amazing, and you can even move your cursor around the graph directly to see exactly what activities most people are doing WHEN throughout the day.

Some conclusions from this data?  As you’ll read in the accompanying article, the study reveals that on the average weekday, folks who are unemployed tend sleep an hour longer than their employed peers, do over two hours more yardwork and housework, and spend an extra 70 minutes in front of the television.  The study also claims (try clicking on the purplish “job search” band in the graph) that the average unemployed person only spends 30 minutes in a given day looking for a new job and that only one in six unemployed people will actually look for work during the typical day.

All I can say is that I hope, fervently, that these averages don’t in any way reflect the behavior and time commitment of my own firm’s clients.  If so, we need to have words, or I need to figure out a much more powerful way to get my message across!  While I seriously doubt that anybody but a small and committed group of diehards are actually out there following the old adage that “you should treat looking for a job as your new full-time job” I also know for a fact that it’s going to take more than 30 minutes a day, especially for more senior-level professionals, to entertain any serious hope of landing a new position within a reasonable time frame.

Interesting data to ponder, regardless.  And perhaps I’m easily impressed, but wow, these kinds of multimedia presentations just knock my socks off, every time.  Does anybody out there out in my network actually know how to CREATE these kinds of graphs?  Or does the New York Times have access to some form of alien technology that they’re not sharing with the world?

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8 Responses to “How Do the (Un)Employed Spend Their Time?”

  1. I would love to see that type of graph used to show the amount of time used to actually apply for jobs. At a presentation I just heard, recruiters described how we all need to have 200-300 links on Linkedin, a Facebook account, a resume tailored to each specific job, on-line job apps, resumes to recruiters, phone calls for networking, etc! It doesn’t shock me that people spend less time looking. The frustration is from all the effort required just to have a chance to talk to someone who “might” hire you!

  2. It really is interesting stuff and while there certainly are folks who put in a full 8 hours a day, I agree with the survey’s results. I know I spend a lot of my time with my clients working on how they can spend more time and on how to do that effectively.

    If someone is spending just half an hour a day, then my guess is that it’s some web based stuff, which is pretty much the least efficient, most discouraging way to spend your job search time. That’s one of the big reasons having a coach is so useful…

  3. Interesting at the bottom of your Blog:

    “Theme Contempt”

    Hopefully not a reflection on your attitude towards your clients!! LOL

  4. One of the reasons for *some* of the additional time, speaking from experience, is that in some households the working spouse ends up working harder to make ends meet and the unemployed spouse needs to pick up the slack at home with housework, yardwork, dealing with kids when you can’t afford other alternatives, etc. — all of which can be tiring if you’re usually a desk-jockey which translates to some more sleep and/or TV-vegetative time.

    Job search work also comes in bursts as some firms that get regularly checked don’t change much. Some places like Microsoft, etc. do update frequently, but not everybody will have a desire to pursue that sort of place.

    So, yes, some of it is a result of “dropping into a lower gear” (or the “granny gear” as some say), but some of it is a result of re-balancing of the total career work hours and domestic workload, so I wouldn’t be too quick to be judgmental about it.

    Discouragement also can translate to less energy to job hunt. Regularly meeting with others for support — and networking — can be helpful on several levels (not necessarily just with other unemployed folks so it doesn’t end up being a group pity party). Meeting with others that “remember the professional you” can help you to maintain a more positive attitude when all you hear is “we’ve decide to move ahead with more qualified candidates” or “we do not find you to be qualified for this job” (yes, AT&T e-mail — yuck), “this position has been filled,” just plain “not interested” or no courtesy of any feedback at all. After hearing “no” on a regular basis — typically for months and, in my case years — day-in-and-day-out will make anybody want to sleep in and veg out in front of the TV a bit more too. 😐

  5. Incredible use of technology to visually depict the information. Unfortunately, I think there is truth in the information. Deb your are doing an exceptional job and with your dedication you should land something soon. Keep it up!

  6. Deb: That’s a good point, and I was a little disappointed, too, to note that the survey data was two years old — since I think you’re right, a lot might have changed in the last two years, given conditions out there. At the same time, I reckon that for most of these huge types of longitudinal surveys, it’s almost always going to be a year (or two) before the data gets compiled and ready to publish. It seems like most of the big surveys of this type are always from 12-24 months ago, from what I’ve witnessed. C’est la vie…

  7. If this data is from 2008, I would like to see what it is for 2010. A lot has changed in those 2 years. I don’t know anyone who only spends 30 minutes a day looking for work. Heck, it takes 3 to 4 hours sometimes just to apply for one job. I spend a full work day looking for work and sometimes longer. The job search is definitely a full time job!!!

  8. Matt, I’m with you all the way, I want to know how to create these graphs, I’ve never seen anything like this from Excel. It isn’t Mind Map either (at least not what I’m familiar with).

    Really amazing, and it blows away anything I’ve seen Powerpoint do. I once worked with a guy that had some very tricky (and large) Excel files dynamically updating Powerpoint presentations.

    But really, nothing like this!

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