The Santa Index 2014: Santa’s Job Is Worth About $140,000

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There’s wide disagreement about how much Santa should be paid.

This post comes from Barbara Marquand at partner site

Between tracking who’s naughty and nice, refereeing reindeer games and running the world’s largest toy factory, Santa has no time for salary negotiations.

So we’re pleased to find that he’s due another bump in pay this year.

According to the annual Santa Index, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data, St. Nick’s salary should be $139,924 in 2014, up more than $2,000 from last year’s estimated pay of $137,795.

Estimating how much it would cost to replace someone’s income or the unpaid work he or she does for the family is a key step in determining how much life insurance to buy. Although Santa doesn’t need any coverage – because he’ll live forever — we make the annual calculation anyway. We use a preset list of tasks and match them to occupations from the BLS, then calculate his total wages for the year. (See the full chart of tasks and wages below.)

Most of Santa’s pay comes from his duties as industrial engineer managing the North Pole toy factory. At eight hours a day, 364 days a year, that comes to $116,742. Other tasks, like cookie tasting and auditing — including checking the list twice — demand fewer hours.

How much should Santa get paid?

A recent survey commissioned by found that of 1,000 adults, only 16 percent think that a salary of about $140,000 is about right, saying Santa should earn between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. Most respondents fell into two groups with wide disagreement: 29 percent said Santa should earn $1.8 billion a year (roughly $1 for everyone younger than 15 in the world), and 29 percent said he shouldn’t earn anything at all. (Another 9 percent said more than $200,000 a year, and 17 percent said less than $100,000 a year.)

Given the holiday season, Santa was unavailable for comment at the North Pole, so we turned to “Santa” Bob Callahan, president of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, a trade group based in Garden Grove, Calif., and “Singin’ Santa” Ric Erwin, the group’s vice president.

As a historical figure, St. Nicholas was a philanthropist, Erwin points out. “Not only was he quite unconcerned with earning a salary, he was actively engaged in giving his wealth away.” And as a folkloric figure, he’d have little use for a salary, Erwin says. “What would he spend it on — and where?”

Stepping into his role playing Santa, Callahan says: “My needs are all met, and I have the best job in the world. A salary would not add to the joys in my life.”

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