So, just how much does Santa Claus pocket for his Christmas Eve sprint around the world — not to mention all the work he does year round maintaining those naughty and nice lists and supervising the North Pole workshops?
Believe it or not, Insure.com actually tracks the value of Santa’s annual services to humankind — it’s a savvy marketing element of the company’s ongoing effort to figure out the value of the unpaid work family members do, and ensure that they have enough life insurance in place to compensate for those services if they should die unexpectedly. And while Santa, being immortal, has no need for life insurance, it’s certainly cool (pun fully intentional) to know that the cost of replacing his work by hiring some other jovial, bearded, chubby senior citizen with a knack for driving airborne sleds and reindeer wrangling would come in at $139,924 this year.
That estimate, based largely on his role as what Insure.com calls “an industrial engineer managing the North Pole toy factory,” is probably more than St. Nick needs, but would rank as a pretty paltry CEO compensation package.
The salary projection also means that Santa should be in line for something that far too few Americans saw in 2014 — a raise. The value of Santa’s work is $2,000 higher than it was in 2013. That might help cover any increase in Santa’s own costs, given that the volatility in global commodity prices, which could take a toll on the cost of reindeer feed.
And Santa has something else that a lot of other Americans may well envy: job security. Let’s face it, nobody’s going to give him the boot. The job is his, permanently.
But while you might be envious at the value of Santa’s compensation package, not to mention the raise, you may want to stop and ponder what he has to do to earn it. (See the Insure.com breakdown below.)
First of all, there’s the North Pole. I didn’t see any mention in there of hardship pay, and if you think living in icy winter climes like Minneapolis and Chicago is unpleasant in December and January, try the North Pole for 12 months a year. Sure, it looks charming on the holiday cards — but that’s all marketing. If Soviet-era diplomats could get hardship bonuses when being posted to Ottawa, Canada, surely Santa could get a 20 percent bonus for spending his life in a rather isolated and frozen location nearly 3,000 miles further north?
Then, too, there are the elves. The Insure.com estimate calculates that Santa can expect to spend 182.5 hours every year as a labor negotiator (at $27.20 an hour) and 2,912 hours a year overseeing workshop operations, with the latter earning him a total of $116,000 of his compensation. But while I’m sure every narcissistic, politically incorrect CEO complains he’s working with mental midgets, jolly old Santa manages to keep order in a warehouse full of merry elves — and, judging from all the toys being delivered to boys and girls around the world, he clearly gets maximum productivity out of his staff. There’s a strong case to be made that Santa deserves more than the standard hourly rate of $40.09 for this (and that the elves deserve some great performance bonuses, too).
What’s more, Santa clearly should stick a zero on the end of his hourly rate for shopping mall visits (currently $16.04). Nothing can possibly compensate for the indignity of having your beard pulled, screaming toddlers dumped in your lap or even — horror of horrors — imperfectly toilet trained cherubs forcing you to dry-clean yet another brand new red suit.
On the other hand, billing $62.31 an hour for 10-hour global joyride through the sky, outside the reach of all radar tracking devices and without having to abide by the channels reserved for commercial aircraft? That’s clearly a perk, and not a legitimate expense.
Speaking of perks, these appear to be largely missing from the Santa Index. Possibly that’s because Santa really doesn’t have to plan for his retirement, after all, so there’s no need for a matching 401(k) contribution or pension plan. But for a guy who spends his time charging across the sky guiding reindeer and trying to land with pinpoint accuracy atop roofs, attempting to squeeze his bulk down chimneys, and sampling milk and cookies left out by people he has never met (you know what people have told you about taking candy from strangers…), surely he could use some decent health insurance? And some liability insurance wouldn’t go amiss, either. Let’s hope that someone is providing him with these necessities.
So, if this represents the value of Santa’s services, and some of the factors that we could weigh in determining his 2015 compensation, how much should he earn?
Insure.com was curious enough to ask 895 households about that — households who say Santa pays them a visit every year and presumably have a vested interest in his continued motivation to generate repeat visits. The division of opinion revealed by the survey is enough to make any board of directors quail. It seems that 29 percent of respondents would be happy to pay Santa about $1 for every child under the age of 15 in the world (his estimated constituency), or a whopping $1.8 billion. Another 29 percent — the “bah humbug” board — would pay him nothing at all.
The next time that a corporate CEO like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase or Coca Cola’s Muhtar Kent finds himself or herself under fire for collecting a supersized salary, they may want to ponder that before protesting about their value to the organization.
The Santa Index 2014
|Santa's Job||BLS Occupation Title||Hours/ day||Days/ year||Hours/ Year||Mean hourly
|Running the workshop||
|Professional shopper||Sales and Related Workers, All Other||8||15||120||$16.50||$1,980|
|Wrapper of gifts||Packers and Packagers, Hand||12||14||168||$10.90||$1,831|
|Labor negotiator (with the elves)||Labor Relations Specialists||0.5||365||182.5||$27.20||$4,964|
|Letter reader||Correspondence Clerks||1||100||100||$17.22||$1,722|
|Talking to kids in the mall||Customer Service Representatives||8||21||168||$16.04||$2,695|
|Investigator (knows if you've been good or bad)||Private Detectives and Investigators||1||30||30||$25.91||$777|
|List checker (checking it twice)||Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks||1||30||30||$17.91||$537|
|Taking care of reindeer||Farm Workers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals||1||365||365||$11.91||$4,347|
|Snow plow driver||Highway Maintenance Workers||0.5||360||180||$17.78||$3,200|
|Sleigh pilot||Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers||10||1||10||$62.31||$623|
|Chimney sweep||Building Cleaning Workers, All Other||10||1||10||$14.57||$146|
|Cookie taster||Agricultural Inspectors||10||1||10||$20.96||$210|
|Gift distributor||Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks||10||1||10||$14.93||$149|
|Announcer ("Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!")||Public Address System and Other Announcers||0.01||1||0.01||$18.60||$0|
|Total Santa salary for 2014: $139,924|
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: