When you finally get home after work, the last thing you want to do is clean last nightâ€™s dirty dishes. But the reality is that many Americans spend their evenings, and even weekends, doing chores. While you may consider hiring a professional to help around the house, doing your own chores can save you thousands of dollars every year.
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on occupational earnings and how much time Americans spend on different chores, we were able to estimate how much it would cost to pay a professional to do those chores instead. We also found that, compared with men, women contribute over $3,000 more in value each year when it comes to unpaid labor at home.
Each year, women contribute $10,755 worth of housework. Men contribute $7,420 annually, a difference of more than $3,000. This is an interesting component of the gender wage gap, because unpaid housework can affect a womanâ€™s earning power, as noted in a recent study published by the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research. Put simply, women doing more of the free labor at home means that they have less time for paid labor outside the home (or at least less downtime).
BLS data indicates that women spend an average of more than two hours each day doing housework â€” men spend just under an hour and a half doing these types of chores. See how many minutes per day men and women spend doing typical household chores:
Although men spend much less time than women doing housework on average, they handle many of the highest-paying tasks, such as car repairs and handyman work.
The three highest-paying chores â€” car repairs, interior and exterior maintenance and home appliance repairs â€” are in male-dominated verticals. Were a professional to handle these tasks instead, they would make the following hourly rates:
On the other hand, women commit more time to the three lowest-paying jobs, including interior cleaning, animal and pet care and food preparation and cleanup. Professionals in these industries earn the following hourly wages:
Americans spend 35 minutes per day on average preparing meals. Women spend more time cooking than men, at 48 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively; this time includes food preparation, as well as cleanup. According to the BLS, restaurant cooks may order supplies, plan the menu and prepare the food, making this the most comparable occupation, with an average wage of $13.26 per hour.
This means that, on average, Americans save $2,856 annually by cooking their own food, rather than paying a professional for this task.
Unpaid housework isnâ€™t included in our countryâ€™s GDP, but that doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s not valuable. Americans save thousands each year by taking housework into their own hands. Annually, the completion of household chores translates to trillions of dollars in value thatâ€™s not accounted for.
American women aged 15 and older save an estimated $1.5 trillion each year by doing housework themselves rather than outsourcing the same tasks. Comparatively, American men who are 15 and older save a total of $964.4 billion. Thatâ€™s a total of $2.4 trillion in value between men and women.
While doing household work yourself can translate to serious savings, chores shouldnâ€™t get in the way of your personal or professional development. If youâ€™re one of many Americans spending hours each day toiling away on housework, it may be time to bring in professional help.
Here are some ways to make the cost of outsourcing household chores better fit into your budget:
To estimate the value of Americanâ€™s household chores we first looked at how much time they spent doing each activity. The BLS compiles this data through the American Time Use Survey.
We then estimated how much it would cost to replace this labor with that of a professional. For example, we replaced cleaning with occupation maids and housekeeping cleaners, food preparation with chefs and animal and pet care with nonfarm animal caretakers.
Next, we multiplied the daily hours spent on each activity by the hourly earnings for people who do that work professionally. That gave us the daily replacement value of household chores. We then multiplied that number by 365 to get the annual value. To find the total country value, we multiplied the annual value by the population over the age of 15.
Data for time spent on activities and hourly earnings of professionals comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of men and women over the age of 15 comes from the Census Bureau. All data is from 2018.
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