What Do The Unemployed Do With All That Spare Time?

“[L]ess than 1% of the foregone market work hours are allocated to job search. However, this represents a fairly large percentage increase given how little time unemployed workers allocate to job search. We show that individuals increase their time investments in their own health care, their own education, and civic activities. Specifically, around 12% of foregone market hours are allocated to these investments.”

We show that the bulk of the foregone market work time during the recent recession is allocated to leisure. …  These categories include, for example, socializing with one’s friends, watching television, reading, and going to the movies. We include sleep, eating, and personal care into our leisure measure given that the marginal investments in these activities may be more akin to leisure than personal maintenance. … [L]eisure activities absorb only about 50% of a given decrease of market work. Additionally, a large fraction of this reallocation is directed towards sleep (more than 20% of foregone work hours).

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