The man page for vmstat states, for example for wa section, " time spent waiting for IO" but what is the unit of time? Is it in seconds?

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    On my system, that section of the man page is prefaced with These are percentages of total CPU time. – steeldriver Jul 21 '18 at 1:26

Read the whole man page:

       These are percentages of total CPU time.
       us: Time spent running non-kernel code.  (user time, including nice time)
       sy: Time spent running kernel code.  (system time)
       id: Time spent idle.  Prior to Linux 2.5.41, this includes IO-wait time.
       wa: Time spent waiting for IO.  Prior to Linux 2.5.41, included in idle.
       st: Time stolen from a virtual machine.  Prior to Linux 2.6.11, unknown.

These are all percentages of the total CPU time.

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