Sentences to ponder

A coming study by Mr. Krueger, using historical data on time use between 1991 and 2006, finds that unemployed Americans tend to sleep an hour longer than the employed, he said. In the U.S. T.V.-watching tends to consume almost a quarter of unemployed peoples’ waking hours.

There is more here, interesting throughout, and for the pointer I thank Brent Depperschmidt.


The TV data will likely turn out to be anachronistic. I bet 2006-present data would show that TV viewing time for the unemployed has been largely replaced by Internet time.

Yup. Internet is the new TV.

Sounds ZMP'ish.

Unemployed people have more free time. Who would have thought it?

And, in particular, free time at times they can't easily spend with others because most of them are working.

Does "unemployed" include retired, disabled, or chronically sick people?

Unemployed people also have more sex.


People suffering from depression also watch more TV and sleep more. Watch a Cymbalta commercial. Being unemployed sucks. You really needed a study for that?

I totally agree. I think we leave unemployed people to their own devices more than we should. When you apply for unemployment you should probably have a meeting with a career counselor and have the option of enrolling in therapy. Or maybe if you are unemployed for 3 months or more.

What exactly is there to ponder? Other than how anyone could find this interesting or surprising? That something that approaches a tautology could be turned into a morality play? How would you possibly model human behavior where you don't expect to get results like this?

The conclusion that Tyler wants to draw from this does not logically follow at all.

What else are they supposed to do, go to the office?

No, they are supposed to adjust expectations and take the lowest paying job they are overqualified for. It's that simple. And, when everyone does, we will once again have full employment;.


What else are they supposed to do, go to the office?

"After the recession left millions jobless, some economists said they hoped that in lieu of work, Americans would spend more time on productive activities, such as volunteering or exercise..."

Some economists.

I continue to hope that some economists will take a leap off the Golden Gate Bridge.

When I was unemployed, I did volunteer and exercise a lot more. I also watched TV a lot more. I also slept more. In fact, I did everything that wasn't "go to work" a lot more.

When you are unemployed, you should be spending a signficant amount of time looking for a job. If you aren't, I guess you really don't need a job, because how else are you eating?

Sorry to be so hard-hearted but life is tough. In that vein this video was brought to my attention this week

I'm glad that you are contrite about being hard hearted. Life being tough is a descriptive statement not a proscriptive statement. I think it would be difficult to find 8 hours+ of useful job searching activities every day.

I would find it tough to do job hunt 8+ hours a day, but you have to put time into it. If you look at the statistics on job gains/job losses there are always many hires going on - when unemployment is rising, there are more terminations than hires. When you lose your job, you can easily get demoralized - looking for a job is one way of fighting that feeling.


All the cited study says is that the unemployed spend 1 hour more on TV a day than the employed. That hardly suggests that they're not looking for work. Yours was another ludicrous conclusion based on a very weak study.

A few Google links cite a statistic that the unemployed spend on average a mere 18 minutes per day job hunting. While that is probably far too little, 8 hours a day is a ridiculous amount of time to spend on that endeavor.

Rich Berger comes off as the kind of whiny brat who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.

It's not every day that I get called a whiny brat. I feel younger already.

I was doing to use "douche." Given your inflated self-image it's obvious I should have.

The last time I was unemployed (before the recession, when I moved from the east coast to the west coast), I spent significant time at the beginning of the search engaged in job hunting activities. Revising and updating my resume, drafting a couple of cover letters for different kinds of attorney positions, learning where law firms in my new state posted open positions, contacting people I knew that I was looking for work, etc. Then, after the first wave of resumes went out, I'd check the help wanted ads on a daily basis for new openings. That doesn't take very long anymore, however, with the internet. If there were no new openings, it wouldn't take more than a couple of minutes.

> finds that unemployed Americans tend to sleep an hour longer than the employed,

One could take this in a 'those lazy unemployed don't have anything to do but eat, sleep, and sex it up'... but you know, in sleep studies when they are interested in measuring how much sleep debt subjects have, they block off several days and tell the subjects to sleep in as much as they can. And there are many other lines of evidence that the average American is sleep-deprived.

I'm just dying to now hear someone say that they are unemployed because they sleep longer and watch more TV.

You're thinking of college professors, not the unemployed. There is nothing on network, anyway.

Isn't this actually less TV than average?

People who have strong internal motors (and this isn't that common) are rarely unemployed. People with median internal motors probably are more productive in a social environment (the office) that imposes productivity standards on them. They are constantly exposed to other workers leading to peer pressure and bosses leading to boss pressure. Stick them alone at home and watch productivity drop at least until they retool their skills for that environment. Ask any writer how long it took them to develop the discipline to hack away at a project for a mere 4 hours a day.

Since I've spent my career in startups, which implode occasionally, I've had a few stretches of unemployment.

When I've been unemployed, I was always actively looking for a job (and was never unemployed for more than a couple weeks). But even while actively looking, I still had far more free time during the day than I did while working; much of the time was spent waiting for people to return calls, sending and answering emails, waiting for interview appointments, meeting people for "networking" social events, etc.

Hey, guess what. I bet employed people spend an hour more in communting time than the unemployed...
Isn't communiting time what we always hear Tyler talking about?

I bet the employed also get an extra sleep on the weekend and holidays.

Last time I was between contracts (three weeks in October, mostly waiting for them to finish the background check), I slept an hour or two more a day. I also cooked more at home, did a lot of reading, and my apartment was cleaner than it ever is when I'm employed. I have a hard time doing anything that costs money beyond necessities if I don't have income.

I'm in a somewhat specialized field (transportation analysis and international compliance). It took me about two hours a day to apply to every job I was interested in and at least marginally qualified for. I mostly did phone interviews, including the one that got me my current non-contract job. Even so, not driving an hour or two a day and spending less time on errands (they go a lot faster on a weekday morning) gave me extra free time.

I don't like the phrase permanent job since I'm an at-will employee, but I can't come up with something other than non-contract. Any suggestions?

You may not have noticed, but not only is the Internet the next TV, but it's the current job board, and the only way to apply to many job postings. That's been true for probably the last decade if not longer.

Try walking into the average place of employment of a reasonable size and ask to apply for a job. You're likely to be given a URL and sent on your way. And you may not speak to a single person, but just read a sign in a lobby, to get that URL. No one wants to talk to you, or has to talk to you.

Idle time, yes. But unless you've been through it, don't call it leisure time. It's anything but.

The last place I worked - in the Midwest - didn't even have an on-site HR department. They did all hiring, payroll, benefits, etc., through HQ in FL. A Fortune 500 company.

ALL federal hiring now goes through (contracting through

A new Taco Bell was opened close to me recently. The sign out front read:

"Now Hiring."

Unemployed folks are supposed to have Internet connections, it seems.

I spoke to a tech recruiter a while ago, and mentioned to him that I'd heard that there are 5 applicants for every job posting. He laughed and immediately said, "No, no - it's way more than that." Then he asked me to sign an exclusivity agreement for the one particular employer he had a relationship with that had positions for someone like me.

Requiring them to have internet connections might be a way of filtering out low-SES applicants, since they can't do IQ tests.

Not just low SES. Also removes those from high SES but who are technophobic, those who can't type, those who have such poor work habits that once they get online they'll forget about the job and spend all day commenting on blogs (oops...)

And it rules IN those who are low SES but have the drive and resourcefulness to say, visit a public library or cybercafe.

As a first round filter it could be a lot worse.

@ john: Unemployed folks are supposed to have Internet connections, it seems.

Here in India the unemployed cannot afford their own internet connection unless they have other sources of income. However people without personal internet connections can go to "browsing centres" or " cyber cafes" and use the internet paying a very affordable hourly fees . There are quite a few even in the small town I live in and many of them even burn CDs and provide printouts ( for a fees) Can the unemployed in the US afford an internet connection? And are there browsing centres in the U.S?

In the US there are plenty of public libraries, and I've never seen one without several (free to use) computers with internet access.

I'm unemployed, and as soon as my unemployment benefits run out (than youDems), I'll spend every waking hour looking for a job. Ho hum, time for a nap.

TV and sleep are both cheap.

I would like to see these data broken down into categories, e.g., age. The WSJ report is too aggregated.

When I was unemployed I spent FAR more time skiing, traveling overseas and so forth than I do now :(

I'd find the results more interesting they were from a panel study.

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