We looked through the data on reading time among US citizens in order to examine the impact of Covid-19 related lockdowns and other social-distancing measures on the reading habits of people.
The average reading time during the pandemic
While time spent reading for the average US citizen in 2019 declined by 20.6% compared to 2009, people’s reading time reached the highest level during the pandemic:
- From May to December 2020, the average US citizen spent 20.4 minutes per day reading for personal interest.
- This is a 25.9% increase compared to the average reading time in 2019, and a 13.3% increase compared to 2010.
- It was also the first year during which people read over 20 minutes per day since 2009.
- This increase is mostly driven by reading time during weekdays, which jumped by 30.8% during 2020.
- Weekends and holidays reading time during pandemic also increased compared to 2020, by 16.7%.
Both genders read more during the pandemic
- Men and women spent additional 4.2 minutes per day reading from May to December compared to 2019.
- Women’s reading time is jumped to 22.8 minutes per day, while men spent 18 minutes reading.
- Men have never read more per day over the last 12 years, and women recorded the highest reading time since 2013.
The oldest citizens read the most during pandemic
- People aged between 45 and 54 are the only category that reduced the daily reading rate during 2020, dropping from 15 to 13.8 minutes per day.
- All other age groups read more in 2020, with people older that 65 leading the way.
- Citizend aged between 65 and 74 spent 11.4 more minutes reading during 2020 compared to 2019, while people over 75 years of age read 13.2 minutes more.
- Youngest citizens, between 15 and 19 years of age, increased their reading time by merely 30 seconds per day.
Part-time employees read less during pandemic
- While overall reading rate for employed people during 2020 was 22.2% higher than it was in 2019, there are some differences among them.
- Full time employees read 3.6 minutes, or 40% more per day from May to December 2020 compared to 2019.
- Part-time employees, however, read 2.4 minutes, or 14.3% less during this period.
- Unemployed citizens increased their reading rate by 20.9%, jumping from 25.8 to 31.2 minutes.
More educated people read even more in 2020
- People without high school diploma read only 6.6 minutes per day during the pandemic’s first year, which is a drop from 8.4 minutes in 2019.
- High school graduates spent 3 additional minutes reading for personal interest during this time.
- People with some college or associate degree read 19.8 minutes per day in 2020, 26.9% more than year before.
- College graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees increased their daily reading time from 25.2 to 31.2 minutes during pandemic.