American Time Use Survey, 2009

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > General Population > National > Other > Summary

The American Time Use Survey (ATUS) is the nation's first federally administered, continuous survey on time use in the United States. The goal of the survey is to measure how people divide their time among life's activities. In the ATUS, individuals are randomly selected from a subset of households that have completed their eighth and final month of interviews for the Current Population Survey (CPS). ATUS respondents are interviewed only one time about how they spent their time on the previous day, where they were and whom they were with. The survey is sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The data file available for download from the ARDA combines two files from the 2009 ATUS: the Respondent file and the Activity summary file.

Data File
Cases: 13,133
Variables: 562
Weight Variable: TUBWGT, TUFINWGT
Users who wish to analyze all questions should use the weight variable TUFINWGT.
Data Collection
Date Collected: January-December 2009
Funded By
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Collection Procedures
An advance mailer is sent to all ATUS designated persons to notify them that they have been selected for the ATUS sample. The advance mailer contains a letter and a brochure, both of which are printed in English and Spanish…. All ATUS data are collected using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI)…. The ATUS sample is randomized by day, with 50 percent of the sample reporting about weekdays, Monday through Friday, and 50 percent reporting about Saturday and Sunday. Designated persons must report about their activities on their designated day, without any substitution of days. A designated person age 15 or older is selected randomly from each household to participate in the interview. No substitutes or proxy response are allowed…. All ATUS interviews are conducted from the U.S. Census Bureau's telephone center at the National Processing Center in Jeffersonville, IN.
Sampling Procedures
The ATUS sample is drawn from the Current Population Survey (CPS), so the ATUS universe is the same as the CPS universe. The universe for the CPS is composed of the civilian, non-institutional population residing in occupied households in the United States. From this universe, the CPS selects approximately 60,000 households every month. About one-eighth (or about 7,500) of these retire permanently from the CPS sample each month after their eighth interview attempt. Two months after households complete their eighth CPS interview, they become eligible for selection into the ATUS sample.

The ATUS sample is a stratified, three-stage sample. In the first stage of selection, the CPS oversample in the less-populous states is reduced…. To improve the efficiency of the national estimates from the survey, the CPS sample is subsampled to obtain the ATUS sample, which is distributed across the states approximately equal to the proportion of the national population each one represents. In the second stage of selection, households are stratified based on these characteristics: the race/ethnicity of the householder, the presence and age of children and the number of adults in adults-only households. Sample rates vary within each stratum. Eligible households with a Hispanic or non-Hispanic black householder are oversampled to improve the reliability of time-use data for these demographic groups. To ensure adequate measures of childcare, households with children also are oversampled. To compensate for this, households without children are undersampled. In the third stage of selection, an eligible person from each household selected in the second stage is randomly selected to be the designated person for ATUS. An eligible person is a civilian household member at least 15 years of age. All eligible persons within a sample household have the sample probability of being selected as the ATUS designated person.

Beginning with the sample introduced in December 2003, the monthly ATUS sample was reduced… to 2,194 per month…. The monthly sample is divided into four randomly selected panels, one for each week of the month. To ensure good measures of time spent on weekdays and weekend days, the sample also is split evenly between weekdays and weekend days. During the assignment of sample codes, 10 percent of the sample is allocated to each weekday, and 25 percent of the sample is allocated to each weekend day. The designated persons are then randomly assigned a day of the week about which to report and an initial interview week code (the week of the interviewing period when the case is introduced)…. The response rate for the 2009 ATUS was 56.6 percent.
Principal Investigators
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
ATUS Naming Conventions and Definitions
ATUS variables are named according to specified rules. Variables with a first character of 'T' (for time use) were collected or created through the ATUS interview. Variables with any other first character (most often 'P', 'G' or 'H') were collected or created through the final CPS interview (conducted two to five months prior to the ATUS interview)….

The second and third characters of the name identify the type of variable, and the remaining characters consist of a descriptive name. The rules regarding the first two or three characters are described below (note that many of the variables [describing time spent in activities] do not follow these rules):

U - Denotes an 'unedited variable.' An unedited variable generally is produced by the Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) instrument, either collected or assigned during the interview. There are a few unedited variables that are computed by the processing system, such as the ATUS final weight (TUFINWGT).

E - Denotes an 'edited variable.' An edited variable is one that has gone through an editing process (a process checking for consistency). Values of edited variables are almost always equal to the values of corresponding unedited variables. Data differ when a value is allocated or imputed by the processing system based on allocation rules specified in CPS or ATUS processing. Allocations are typically performed when the unedited variable contains a value of blank, 'don't know,' or 'refused.' An edited version of a variable exists only if that variable goes through an editing process. If there are no edits for a variable, then only an unedited version of that variable exists.

R - Denotes a 'recode.' A recode is a variable calculated by the processing system from a combination of other variables on the file. For example, TRMJOCC1 is the major occupation code for the respondent's main job; this is not a response to a question but rather a variable that summarizes (or 'groups') the more finely detailed occupation variable TEIO1OCD. Note that variables with second and third characters of 'RT' are summary variables.

RT - Denotes a 'summary variable.' These variables summarize the amount of time respondents spent with other people or did selected activities. For example, TRTALONE gives the total amount of time the respondent spent alone on the diary day. Variables that summarize the amount of time respondents spent alone on the diary day. Variables that summarize the amount of time respondents spent with other people rely on 'who' code information and therefore do not include activities for which no 'who' code information was collected, such as sleeping.

X - Denotes an 'allocation flag.' Each edited variable has a corresponding allocation flag indicating the nature of the allocation. For example, if TUAGE is blank, TEAGE would be allocated, and this would be indicated by a TXAGE value of 41. [See the allocation flag variables in the codebook for a list of values.]

XT - Denotes a 'summary allocation flag.' Some summary variables have a corresponding XT variable, which is a 0-1 indicator of whether the summary variable contains allocated information. For example, a value of 1 in TXTCC indicates that TRTCC and TRTCC_LN contain allocated rather than calculated data.

T - Denotes a 'topcode flag.' These variables indicate whether another variable has been topcoded, or given a maximum value.
Note 1: Changes to Variables
1. Some variable names containing more than eight characters are shortened consistent with the eight-character abbreviations given in the BLS' ATUS files. Original variable names are provided in parentheses at the end of each variable's description where this occurs.

2. The variables TUCC2 and TUCC4 were converted from HH:MM:SS format to decimal format in this version of the dataset. Instructions on how to interpret values of these variables are provided in the codebook. Note that all cases had 'SS' values of '00' for both of these variables in their original form.

3. Several variables were removed from this version of the dataset because they contained no data. These variables are the following: TUBULS4, TUERNH1C, TULKDK3, TULKDK4, TULKDK5, TULKDK6, TULKPS5 and TULKPS6.
Note 2: Sources for Data and Summary Text
These data sets also may be found through the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The above summary descriptions were derived from the American Time User Survey User's Guide and from the 2009 ATUS data dictionaries available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey pages.

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