A graphical representation of Hillary Clinton’s 2,088 hours in the air as secretary of state

The State Department says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spent an aggregate equivalent of 87 full days on airplanes since taking over almost four years ago. That number is a little difficult to fathom so, for the sake of evaluating this one aspect of her legacy, I put it into a couple of charts.

Clinton, famously, is the best-traveled secretary of state in the office's history, visiting more countries than any predecessor. Her total time on airplanes would come to a staggering 2,088 hours, or about 6 percent of her life as secretary of state. The State Department says that all her travel, including air time, amounts to 401 aggregate days, or 27 percent of her life while in office. Here's how that charts out:


Click to enlarge. Data: State Dept. (Max Fisher/WashPost)

But the above chart still doesn't really seem to convey how much time we're talking about. So I compared it to Bureau of Labor Statistics data on how the average American spends his or her time. That makes it a little starker. During her tenure, Clinton spent more time on airplanes than most Americans spend on any single activity other than sleeping, work or TV.

Here's the breakdown for how much time the average American dedicates to some common activities, from eating to childrearing (part of "caring for others"), marked in blue columns. The red column compares that to the number of hours Clinton spent in the air.


Click to enlarge. Data: BLS, State Dept. (Max Fisher/WashPost)

Including air time, Clinton spent 2,406 hours traveling in an average year as secretary of state. For comparison, the average American woman of her age spends 3,102 hours sleeping per year.

Keep this in mind the next time you read about the possible physical toll of Clinton's travels. When people call her schedule "grueling," they're not kidding.

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Max Fisher · January 7, 2013

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