Time Use of Long-Term Care Workforce

Whether workers exit or stay in the labor force depends not only on compensation and work satisfaction, but also on factors outside of the workplace: their ability to develop new skills, take part in social activities, engage in hobbies, and have time for leisure activities.


Key Questions

  • To examine time spent on work and non-work activities reported by the LTC workforce and other workers with comparable education/skills, we aim to determine:
  • Does a relationship exist between time on the job and activities such as caring for and helping non-household members, leisure activities, and time spent on educational activities?
  • How does time spent in these and other activities compare by level of education among the LTC workforce?
  • Which activities of low-skilled LTC workers compare with other low-skilled non-LTC workers and, conversely, activities of high-skilled LTC workers to other high-skilled non-LTC workers?


For questions, contact: Ulrike Muench, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, UCSF.



Authors Ulrike Muench, PhD, RN, Matthew Jura, MS, MPH, and Joanne Spetz, PhD of the UCSF Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care have published their report, How Do Long-Term Care Workers Spend Their Time? Answers from the American Time-Use Survey. To better understand factors that might contribute to work stress, burnout, and retention among long-term care (LTC) workers, the report compares time spent by the LTC workforce with that of other health professionals (OHPs) with comparable education/skills.

Using data from the American Time Use survey (ATUS) from 2003-2014, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the UCSF authors found that although LTC workers spent more time on leisure compared with OHPs, much of this difference was attributable to more time watching TV and less time to exercising sleep or other activities of well-being. The findings were particularly notable among unskilled workers. These results may not be surprising in light of prior reports detailing the poorer health of LTC workers relative to OHPs. LTC workers reported similar levels of work satisfaction and quality of life compared with OHPs. Of special importance to the question of burnout and job satisfaction, LTC workers more often provided eldercare to family members or friends on a regular basis.

The authors recommend that employers consider addressing the tendency toward sedentary lifestyle among LTC workers as obesity and hypertension are associated with higher costs to employers, both through greater spending on health care and lower productivity. Further, while LTC workers may be in the best position to care for aging family members, taking on this burden outside of work also may increase pressure on an already strained workforce.



Muench, U, Jura, M, Harrington, C, Mathison, R, Spetz, J. Financial Vulnerability and Worker Wellbeing Outside of the Workplace: A Comparison of Long-Term Services and Supports Workers with Other Health Workers. Medical Care Research and Review, Volume 78, Issue 5, June 2020, Pages 607-615.

Muench, U, Spetz, J, Jura, M, Harrington, C. Racial Disparities in Financial Security, Work and Leisure Activities, and Quality of Life Among the Direct Care Workforce, The Gerontologist, Volume 61, Issue 6, September 2021, Pages 838–850.