American men did more housework in 2020, but still not as much as women

Image: Reuters/Caitlin Ochs
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The great work-from-home experiment of 2020 could have raised awareness in many heterosexual households about the frustratingly persistent gap between how much time men and women spend on housework. And that heightened consciousness could have prompted more men to pick up a broom or scrub the toilet more often.

This did not happen.

According to new data from the annual American Time Use Survey, released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, men spent an extra 16 minutes per day on housework in 2020, compared to 2019. Women only spent 11 more minutes per day on chores like cleaning, cooking, yard work, and paying bills.

However, women were already dedicating more time to housework and household management before the pandemic began. In total, women spent an average of 2.4 hours per day on these inescapable tasks in 2020. Men? They averaged 1.6 hours per day.

To be sure, the BLS data does include single men and men in same-sex households. However, surveys that break out heterosexual households have found similar patterns.

Combined with the extra time women spent on minding at least one child at home while occupied with another activity, such as working, the data show that women shouldered more home and childcare responsibilities overall. Researchers at Gallup have suggested that this is one of many factors that led to more women leaving the US workforce.

The American Time Use Survey also found that the share of employed persons working at home nearly doubled during the pandemic, soaring to 42%. Only 22% of employed adults reported working from home in 2019.

All of the data for the annual American Time Use Survey is self-reported, and this year’s release represents 10 months of data since the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shut down data collection operations for two months, beginning March 11, 2020.