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Milk, Cookies—and 2% Raise—for Santa
 

By SHRM Online staff  12/23/2013
 

A glass of milk and a plate of cookies are always welcome, but Santa may find a little something extra under the Christmas tree in recognition of all his hard work this year.

Calculating the number of hours the jolly old elf puts in for all his many duties—pilot, reindeer rancher, investigator of children’s naughtiness or niceness, toy-factory supervisor, to name a few—his efforts are worth $137,795 in 2013, according to Insure.com’s annual Santa Index.

Using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as a guide and its own life insurance calculator as a reference, the company calculated a 2 percent raise for St. Nick based on the following duties: 

The Santa Index 2013

Santa's job

BLS occupation title

Hours/
day

Days/
year

Mean hourly
wage

Annual earnings

Manufacturing executive (Santa's workshop)

Industrial engineer

8

364

$39.47

$114,937

Professional shopper

Sales and related workers, all other

8

15

$16.11

$1,933

Wrapper

Packer and packager, hand

12

14

$10.80

$1,814

Labor negotiator (with elves)

Labor-relations specialist

0.5

365

$27.02

$4,931

Letter reader

Correspondence Clerk

1

100

$17.75

$1,775

Company representative in mall

Customer-service representative

8

21

$15.92

$2,675

Investigator (knows if you've been bad or good)

Private detective, investigator

1

30

$24.42

$733

List checker (checking it twice)

Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks

1

30

$17.62

$529

Taking care of reindeer

Farmworker, farm, ranch and aquacultural animals

1

365

$11.56

$4,219

Snowplow driver

Highway- Maintenance Worker

0.5

360

$17.43

$3,137

Pilot

Airline pilot, co-pilot and flight engineers

10

1

$61.90

$619

Chimney sweep

Building cleaning worker, all other

10

1

$14.13

$141

Cookie taster

Agricultural inspector

10

1

$20.41

$204

Distributor

Shipping, receiving and traffic clerk

10

1

$14.76

$148

Announcer (“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”)

Public address system and other announcers

0.01

1

$19.27

$0.19

   Total: $137,795

Wage source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The 19-cents annual earnings for his famous “Merry Christmas to all” salutation may look odd considering Santa’s hourly rate for that duty, acknowledged Amy Danise, a spokeswoman for Insure.com, but “we figured the announcement takes less than a minute to make, resulting in the low wage for that particular task.

The few extra thousand dollars in his pay stub “is akin to a lump of coal,” considering all of Santa’s responsibilities, the company pointed out—after all, elf labor doesn’t come cheap—but it could be worse. In a survey conducted in October with 2,000 people ages 18 and older, more than one-third said his work was charitable and should be pro bono.

Others were more generous:

  • 27 percent said Santa should receive about $1 for every child under age 15, the equivalent of $1.8 billion.

  • 15 percent said he should be paid between $100,000 and $200,000 annually.

  • 12 percent said he should get less than $100,000.

  • 10 percent would give him more than $200,000.
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