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Time Use Study of Reading in America

It is nice to see an article in a popular magazine make good and explicit use of government data. This article has a couple of added bonuses for government information librarians: It is about reading and it does a very good job of explaining how to avoid being mislead by sloppy use of data. It also uses one of my favorite datasets, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' American Time Use Survey!

Here there’s a little bit of good news: the average American reader spent 1.39 hours reading in 2003, rising to 1.48 hours in 2016. That’s the very gradually rising blue line in the graph above. In other words, the average reading time of all Americans declined not because readers read less but because fewer people were reading at all, a proportion falling from 26.3 per cent of the population in 2003 to 19.5 per cent in 2016.

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