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In U.S., 3 in 10 Working Adults Are Strapped for Time

In U.S., 3 in 10 Working Adults Are Strapped for Time

by Magali Rheault

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Despite the swirl of daily family and professional obligations, most working Americans tell Gallup they have enough time to get done what they need to do. However, 28% report they do not, compared with 20% of non-working adults who say the same.

Did you have enough time to get done what you needed to do yesterday?

Working Women and Parents Most Likely to Lack Enough Time

Women and those with children in the household are the most likely among working adults to report being strapped for time. Working Americans between the ages of 30 and 49 and those with a college education are also among the most likely to lack the time they need. At the other end of the spectrum, younger (aged 18 to 29 years) and older (aged 65 and older) working Americans, and those who are single/never married, are among those most likely to say they have enough time. At the same time, the gap between the most and the least time-strapped working Americans is just 10 percentage points.

Working Adults With the Most and Least Time

The more education working adults have, the less likely they are to report having enough time to complete what they need to do during the day. Income, just like education, is another variable that has an inverse relationship with time or lack thereof. In other words, the more cash-rich working Americans are, the more time-poor they feel.

Time Among Working Americans, By Annual Household Income

Personal Life Suffers for Those Who Are Time-Poor

Working adults who report being time-poor are less satisfied with their personal life. Additionally, time-poor working Americans are far more likely to say they experience a lot of stress than those who say they had enough time to get done what they need to do. These results still hold after controlling for age, gender, education, income, marital status, and children in the household.

Time-Poor Working Adults Report Less Satisfaction With Life and More Stress

The Gallup results reveal that time, or the perceived lack of it, may be another important construct in relation to both evaluative and experiential well-being.

Bottom Line

Taken together, the results reveal that, while a majority of working Americans report having enough time to do what they need to do, a significant proportion believe they cannot catch up with their daily obligations and needs. Specific demographic groups such as working women, parents with children in the household, and those at the top of the income spectrum are among the most likely to be time-poor. In addition, the relationship between lacking time and a lower sense of well-being, especially higher levels of stress, suggests that factors beyond professional and family obligations may be at play and need to be explored further.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 2, 2010 through June 27, 2011, with a random sample of 321,625 working adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage points.

Margins of error for subgroups have a maximum margin of sampling error of ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone-only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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