From tracking who's naughty and who's nice to running the
world's largest toy workshop and delivery service, Santa wears many
He's manufacturing executive, sleigh driver, letter reader, list
double-checker, reindeer tender, distributor and more.
All told he should be earning $134,944 this year, according to
our analysis of wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's
up 1.5 percent from last year's Santa Index of $132,950.
Determining how much it would cost to
replace someone's income
-- or the unpaid work a person does for a family -- is an important
step in deciding how much life insurance to buy.
Of course no one could replace Santa -- nor will the world ever
need to. Nonetheless here are some of the tasks we considered when
compiling this year's Santa Index.
Making toys might sound like fun and games, but it's not child's
play. As an industrial engineer running the North Pole workshop,
Santa supervises the design, development and testing of every
gadget and trinket the elves produce. According to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, the job includes quality and inventory control,
cost analysis, logistics, and management of human -- er, elf, --
work factors. Annual earnings for eight hours a day every day:
Labor relations specialist.
Elves are a merry bunch, but that doesn't mean disputes don't
erupt. Coordinating grievance procedures, handling complaints and
resolving disagreements are all part of Santa's job. We figure he
spends at least half an hour a day dealing with elf labor issues.
Annual earnings: $5,167.
The millions of letters from children can't go unread.
Fortunately Santa is a speed-reader. An hour a day as a
correspondence clerk for 100 days a year would earn him
Think of the nightmare on Christmas morning if Santa didn't
carefully select who should get which toy. Susie would get the
pair of skates, and Johnny would get the sled. Poor Nelly would
get a storybook she's already read. Eight hours a day 15 days a
year spent selecting presents would yield $2,303.
Reindeer don't just take care of themselves. Santa feeds and
cleans up after the herd, supervises reindeer games and steps in
when name-calling gets out of hand. Annual earnings for one hour
a day every day: $4,234.
Seeing you sleeping, knowing when you're awake, tracking the
naughty and nice: normally that would be a 24/7 operation. If he
squeezes in an hour a day for sleuthing in the month leading up
to Christmas, the annual earnings would be $701.
Making lists and checking them twice an hour a day one month
before Christmas would bring in $401.
Shipping and receiving clerk.
The miracle of singlehandedly distributing toys to every boy and
girl overnight earns Santa a grand total of $146.50. Beat that
Guided only by the red glow of a reindeer nose, Santa drives his
sleigh through the foggy night air and performs millions of
rooftop takeoffs and landings. Average earnings for an airline
pilot for 10 hours: $568.
Although carefully calculated, our Santa Index has one
limitation. Nowhere in the federal labor data is a wage statistic
for holiday magic making. That, dear readers, is priceless.
The Santa Index 2012: Earnings details
BLS occupation used
Hours per day
Days per year
|Manufacturing executive (workshop)
||Sales and Related Workers
||Packers and Packagers, Hand
|Labor negotiator (with elves)
||Labor Relations Specialists
|Company representative in mall
||Customer Service Representatives
|Investigator (knows if you've been good or
||Private Detectives and Investigators
|List checker (checking it twice)
||Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks
|Taking care of reindeer
Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals
|Snow plow driver
||Highway Maintenance Workers
||Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineer
|Going down chimneys (chimney sweep)
||Building Cleaning Workers
|Cookie & milk taster
|Deliveries via sleigh (distributor)
||Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks
|Announcer ("Merry Christmas to all, and to
all a good night!")
||Public Address System and Other Announcers
Wage source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Santa's life insurance rates are out of this world
If Santa went shopping for
, the rates might make him cry and pout.
Sorry, Virginia, but Santa is one risky customer.
We did a little checking for St. Nick and found he needs nothing
short of a holiday miracle to get decent life insurance rates -- or
to qualify at all. Good thing our favorite jolly old elf will live
forever and doesn't need coverage.
Here's what's working against him.
The older you get, the more expensive life insurance becomes.
When Santa's age is disclosed for life insurance, all he gets is a
lump of coal.
So we decided to be a little bit bad -- but with good intentions
-- and fudge the numbers. (Don't try this at home when you're
actually applying for insurance.)
With a beard white as snow, we figured Santa probably wouldn't
pass for under 60, but his lively and quick ability to bound down
chimneys and the twinkle in his eye should put him on the right
side of 70. Our estimate for this exercise: 65.
A lithe, barbell-toting, tofu-eating Santa in red spandex and
running shoes isn't our idea of jolly. Still, all that candy-cane
taste-testing at the toy factory, along with those countless plates
of milk and cookies on Christmas Eve, aren't doing Santa any
Beloved as his plump figure is, Santa's chubbiness is going to
cost him. We ran online life insurance quotes for a 20-year,
$250,000 level-premium term life policy for a 5-foot-5, 65-year-old
man living in Alaska. (There was no option for the North Pole.)
With a healthy weight of 140 pounds, the cheapest rate was $2,573 a
year. But anonymous, well-placed elf sources tell us Santa tips the
scales at 215; that factor alone boosts the lowest rate to $3,700 a
It pains us to say this, but when it comes to insurance Santa's
penchant for pipe smoking puts even him on the slightly naughty
list. Yes, the way the smoke encircles his head like a wreath is
charming. And he does indeed look dandy with that stump of pipe
held tight in his teeth. But pipe smokers are at greater risk for
lung cancer and all sorts of other very unmerry things.
cigar smokers see the best life insurance rates
The lowest five life insurance quotes for that 20-year, $250,000
level-premium term life policy range from $3,700 to $4,838 if we
say the 215-pound Santa has never smoked. Once we enter the
information about his pipe puffing, the lowest five rates range
from $3,700 to $9,210.
We can't say for sure how much Santa's job would drive up his
life insurance premiums, but we imagine piloting a sleigh in the
dark of night in all kinds of weather is bound to raise some red
flags at the life insurance company offices.
If you fly airplanes, some insurers, before issuing a policy,
will want to know how many hours you fly each year and the type of
aircraft you use. Santa's annual all-nighter driving a toy-laden
sleigh is probably not going to put risk-averse minds at ease. Nor
are the eight tiny reindeer, who, according to eyewitness accounts,
must be called by name and constantly cajoled to dash away, whether
it's to the top of the porch or to the top of the wall.
Of course there is the shiny red-nose guidance system, a safety
precaution in foggy weather. But consistent reports of pawing and
prancing on snowy and icy rooftops remain troubling.
Here are more
risky adventures that'll freak out your life
High blood pressure and high cholesterol
Santa's bowl-full-of-jelly belly has us worried. Doctors say
people who carry extra weight around the middle are more at risk
for serious health problems, including high blood pressure and high
cholesterol, than people who carry extra weight in the hips and
thighs. Both types of unhealthy readings put people in high-risk
categories for life insurance.
"Belly fat is nothing to joke about," the Mayo Clinic warns
ominously on its website. Oh, poor Santa, chuckling away, so
Stress is another risk factor for high blood pressure. Sure
Santa seems to take it all in stride, always quick with a "Merry
Christmas" and a ho, ho, ho. But all that double-checking of lists,
monitoring of everyone's sleep habits and the sheer deadline
pressure -- surely it would take a toll.
Thank goodness Santa will never have to fill out a life
insurance application or undergo a life insurance medical exam --
we wouldn't want to hear the results.