WHAT DO YOUNG SOUTH AFRICANS DO WITH THEIR TIME? II - THE UNEMPLOYED AND THE ECONOMICALLY INACTIVE

Charles Simkins | Feb 14, 2017
Youth Brief 7 considered the patterns of time use among young people who are (1) working and (2) not working but undergoing education. This brief deals with the patterns among unemployed and not economically active young people. It will also discuss the places at which young people spend their time.

Time use among the unemployed[1] and the economically inactive.

 
The methodology of Youth Brief 7 is used in the first part of this brief. Table 1 sets out the average number of minutes per week day spent by the unemployed and the economically inactive across the various types of activity.  
 

Table 1 - Youth in employment, education and training

Weekdays

Average minutes per day

 

Unemployed

 

Not economically active

 

Men

Women

 

Men

Women

           

At work

7

4

 

5

5

Seeking work

36

8

 

4

1

Work-related travel

17

5

 

4

2

At education institution

0

0

 

0

0

Education-related travel

0

0

 

0

0

Household maintenance

140

275

 

136

258

Care of persons

9

65

 

5

59

Community service

7

4

 

5

5

Social and cultural activities

221

120

 

266

128

Mass media

205

171

 

218

159

Sleeping and related activities

600

593

 

614

611

Other personal care

196

182

 

191

194

           

Total

1438

1427

 

1448

1422

 
Unemployed men spend an average of 36 minutes per day looking for work and a further 17 minutes in associated travel. Unemployed women hardly search at all, and the time use patterns are very similar to among economically inactive women. As in the case of workers and learners, women bear a heavier burden of household maintenance and care of persons than men, leaving them less time for social and cultural activities.  
 
Table 2 compares time use between the unemployed and workers.  A negative entry indicates that the unemployed spend less time on average on the relevant activity and a positive sign that the unemployed spend more time. For men, the unemployed spend 438 minutes on average less than the employed on work and education related activities, and more time (in descending order) on social and cultural activities, watching television and videos and listening to the radio and music, household maintenance, sleeping, looking for work and personal care.
 

Table 2 - Comparison of time use patterns

between the unemployed and workers

Week days

Average minutes per day

 
 

Men

Women

     

At work

-371

-324

Seeking work

36

8

Work-related travel

-40

-47

At education institution

-22

-15

Education-related travel

-5

-3

Household maintenance

75

128

Care of persons

6

34

Community service

4

0

Social and cultural activities

107

44

Mass media

101

78

Sleeping and related activities

87

74

Other personal care

24

18

     

Total

2

-5

 
The pattern for women is to spend more time on household maintenance, then on mass media, sleeping, social and cultural activities, care of persons, and personal care.
 
The Time Use Survey asked a question about whether people felt that they had been too busy, comfortable, or not busy enough on the day for which information was collected. The findings are summarized in Table 3. The findings are not surprising for workers and learners, but it is interesting to see that the relatively low numbers of unemployed (41% for men and 21% for women) who felt that they were not busy enough. The question is why the remainder want to work if they already had a comfortable number of things to do or had too many things to do. Presumably, there must be a desire to reorganise their days, economising on social and cultural activities, watching television and videos and listening to the radio and music, household maintenance, and sleeping,
 

Table 3 - Overall assessment of day

Weekdays

 

Workers

Learners

Unemployed

Inactive

Men

       
         

Had too many things to do

21,7%

7,9%

24,3%

0,0%

Had a comfortable number of things to do

59,7%

78,2%

34,8%

61,8%

Had too few things to do

18,7%

13,9%

40,9%

38,2%

         

Total

100,0%

100,0%

100,0%

100,0%

         

Women

       
         

Had too many things to do

15,5%

16,3%

9,7%

19,0%

Had a comfortable number of things to do

68,9%

66,1%

69,0%

66,0%

Had too few things to do

15,6%

17,6%

21,3%

15,0%

         

Total

100,0%

100,0%

100,0%

100,0%

 

Where do young people spend their weekdays?

 
The time use study asked a question about the location of activities. The distribution by time across places of activity is set out in Table 4.  
 
As a rough guide to assessing Table 4, consider a person with a nine-to-five job, who spends an hour per day travelling to and from work and another hour per day outside the home, shopping or socialising between Monday and Friday. Then the proportion of time spent at home would be 58.3%, not far below the 61.7% for young men, but considerably below the 68.7% for young women. In comparison with workers, learners spend a higher proportion of their day at home, because the average time spent at educational institutions is lower than the average time spent at work, with less time spent at other dwellings or in public.
 
The most remarkable thing about Table 4 is the percentage of time spent at home by the unemployed and economically inactive. Young unemployed and inactive men get out and about for approximately twice as long as their female counterparts, who stay at home for a staggering 91% of their day. Without earnings of their own, young women spend a higher proportion of their time at home than prisoners spend in their cells. The effect must be stultifying. 
 

Table 4 -Places at which activities are carried out

Distribution by time

Weekdays

 

Workers

Learners

Unemployed

Inactive

Men

       
         

At home

61,7%

69,2%

81,8%

83,5%

Another dwelling

4,6%

2,6%

7,8%

7,8%

At work

20,7%

0,3%

0,8%

0,4%

At education

1,4%

18,9%

0,1%

0,2%

In public

5,1%

2,7%

4,5%

3,9%

Travel

6,5%

6,4%

5,1%

4,2%

         

Total

100,0%

100,0%

100,0%

100,0%

         

Women

       
         

At home

68,1%

72,7%

91,1%

91,0%

Another dwelling

3,4%

1,7%

3,1%

3,4%

At work

17,8%

0,2%

0,3%

0,3%

At education

1,3%

17,8%

0,1%

0,1%

In public

3,7%

1,7%

2,6%

2,5%

Travel

5,6%

5,9%

2,9%

2,7%

         

Total

100,0%

100,0%

100,0%

100,0%

 
Charles Simkins
Head of Research
charles@hsf.org.za
 

NOTES

[1] Workers and learners are excluded from the analysis. The unemployed include discouraged workers. Both groups would like to work. The economically inactive are those who do not wish to work.