Americans average 16.5 minutes a day
The share of Americans who read for pleasure has fallen by more than 30% since 2004, according to the 2018 American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In 2004, some 28% of Americans over 14 read for pleasure every day. In 2018, that number was about 19%. The amount of time people spend reading for personal interest has dropped from 23 minutes per day per person in 2004 to 16.5 minutes in 2017.
What are American reading habits?
United States women spend just 19.8 minutes a day reading for pleasure, according to the study. American men spend even less: an average of 13.2 minutes a day.
That means that on average, Americans spend about 16.5 minutes reading for fun.
When it comes to reading for fun, American adults spend more time than those in high school, according to the BLS. Levels of education make a difference, too.
Here’s how the age groups stack up:
- 15- to 44-year-olds: average 51 minutes of reading a day
- 45- to 54-year-olds: 12.6 minutes a day
- 55- to 65-year-olds: 18 minutes a day
- Americans aged 75 or older: 51 minutes a day
Americans ages 20 to 34 spent a mere 0.11 hours reading daily, according to Statistica, or less than 7 minutes a day.
They’re watching TV instead.
Americans average five hours and 15 minutes of leisure time a day. What are they doing instead of reading?
- Watching TV occupied the most time: 2.8 hours a day on average. That’s almost half of all leisure time — and nearly 10 times the amount of time people devote to reading for fun.
- Using a computer for games or leisure: 27.9 minutes a day. People ages 15 to 24 spent the most time using their computers for fun — about an hour each day. Those ages 35 to 44 spent the least amount of time using a computer for fun: just 13 minutes a day.
- Socializing and communicating: 39 minutes a day.
- Relaxing and thinking: 21 minutes a day.
As for reading books: In 2018, according to Statistica, 26% of U.S. adults said they had not read at least one book in the last year.
Do the math.
While they spend only a few minutes a day reading for fun, Americans receive the data equivalent of 174 newspapers a day — ads included, according to a study by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.
How much of their 16.5 minutes a day of reading time do you think they’re spending on your piece? Not very much.
“Leisure reading in the U.S. is at an all-time low,” The Washington Post, June 29, 2019
“American Time Use Survey Summary,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 28, 2018
James E. Short, “USC CTM Releases Report on Americans’ Media Consumption,” USC Marshall School of Business, Oct. 28, 2013
Richard Alleyne, “Welcome to the information age – 174 newspapers a day,” The Telegraph, Feb. 11, 2011