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This time each year, when the days get colder and we spend quiet nights at home around the fireplace with family, the team at starts to get all excited thinking about the holiday season. And while a steaming hot toddy or Michael Bublé’s version of “White Christmas” goes a long way toward getting us in a festive mood, nothing signals the start of the holiday season for us quite like one thing: The Santa Index.

Using salary information from comparable jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the elves calculate an annual salary for the Man with the Bag each year. We take into account Santa’s myriad tasks and estimate how much time he spends on each job throughout the year.

Some of those jobs, like his obligatory “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” only lasts a fraction of a minute. Others, such as running the workshop, we’re confident are done every day.

Kris Kringle saw a 6% wage increase

There’s no sign that the Great Resignation has hit the North Pole, from what we can tell. We have it on good authority that Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and the elves are perfectly content with their roles. However, for the rest of the U.S., the massive wave of employees who have left the workforce has made filling some jobs more difficult than others.

A magically tireless work ethic has made Santa a very valuable employee, as his salary skyrocketed to $159,622 this year. That’s a 6% wage increase from 2020. Last year, Santa’s income only rose by 2%, so it’s been a good year at the North Pole.

Old Saint Nick saw wage increases in 14 out of 15 categories, including shifts in the pay rate of pilots and a recategorization of his announcer position, which led to the bigger bump.

The only category to decrease was Santa’s job as a personal shopper, a role he fills by picking out the perfect toy for every child. The world economy ground to a near halt over 2020, and it’s no surprise that the effect has continued moderately into 2021, so the need (and salary) for personal shoppers dropped faster than a broken icicle.

However, since no algorithm can predict the perfect gift for a child as well as Santa, we bet all our marshmallows that that category will rebound as the economy continues to open up in the year ahead.

During a very exclusive Zoom interview with Mr. Claus, he had this to say about the most recent salary numbers, “Oh, well, I don’t do any of this for money, of course. Our property at the North Pole has been paid off for centuries. And it looks as though I’m going to have to put something extra in the stockings of all those personal shoppers this year!”

The Santa Index 2021

Santa’s job BLS occupation title (closest matching) Hours per day Days per year Hours per year Mean hourly wage Annual earnings (rounded) Change from last year
Running the workshopIndustrial Engineers83642912$45.01$1,31,0691%
Professional shopperSales and Related Workers, All Other815120$19.11$2,293-2%
Wrapper of giftsPackers and Packagers, Hand1214168$14.07$2,3645%
Labor negotiator (with elves)Labor Relations Specialists0.5365182.5$36.00$6,5704%
Letter readerCorrespondence Clerks1100100$19.26$1,9261%
Sitting in mall to speak with childrenCustomer Service Representatives821168$18.51$3,1103%
Investigator (knows if you’ve been good or bad)Private Detectives and Investigators13030$28.89$8675%
List checker (checking it twice)Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks13030$21.20$6363%
Taking care of reindeerFarmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Agricultural Animals1365365$14.93$5,4494%
Snow plow driver (at the North Pole)Highway Maintenance Workers0.5360180$20.77$3,7392%
Pilot of sleighAirline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers10110$100.00$1,00016%
Going down chimneysBuilding Cleaning Workers, All Other (Chimney Sweeper)10110$18.68$1879%
Cookie & milk tasterAgricultural Inspectors10110$23.38$2343%
Distributor (placing gifts under the tree)Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks10110$17.89$1793%
Announcer (“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”)Public Address System and Other Announcers0.0110.01$27.55$0.2831%
Santa’s total salary for 2021$1,59,6226%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Life insurance might just save Christmas one day

With a sizable salary coming in each year, Père Noël has built up quite an estate over the last 1,750 years! He also has a supportive spouse and a lot of elves and reindeer who depend on him.

“Mrs. Claus and I don’t take being magical beings for granted. Just because we won’t die of old age doesn’t mean we can’t die! Can’t be too careful; this job comes with a lot of hazards,” he says during the Zoom interview. “My goodness, just last week, during a test sleigh drive, we were nearly clipped by a transcontinental Boeing 787!”

“And don’t forget the time you got stuck in that tiny chimney in Düsseldorf!” Mrs. Claus adds excitedly. “And then there was that reindeer stampede back in 1685!”

“Yes, there are a lot of dangers that come with this job, so when I began hearing about ‘life insurance’ somewhere around the turn of the 18th century, it sounded like a brilliant idea. Got those two nice chaps from London on the nice list for years, too.

“So, yes, I have a very robust life insurance policy. If I die, there will be money enough to ensure that Mrs. Claus can keep the workshop producing and the elves fairly compensated, the reindeer groomed, the snowmobiles serviced, and the cupboards stocked with candy canes and hot cocoa for a couple of years — allowing Mrs. Claus time to figure out what the future will look like.”

Money doesn’t solve everything, but it does pay bills

A life insurance policy pays a death benefit to the declared beneficiary or beneficiaries if the policyholder dies. As long as the policy is current, paid, and the terms of death meet the policy, the beneficiary can then use that money for many reasons, including paying for:

  • A funeral service, burial or cremation costs
  • Credit card bills
  • Mortgages
  • Childcare
  • Car payments
  • Future education costs
  • Other bills that can’t wait and could severely impact a grieving family

After a death, the family might have moving costs, therapy sessions, additional childcare needs, housekeeping services — all just to help keep everyone and the household functioning. A policy can even help pay for some long-term plans, such as children’s future education costs.

It’s common for people to think that only someone who has a salaried job needs life insurance. However, loss of a loved one often leads to added bills to pay or work that needs to be done (resulting in more bills). Having a life insurance policy to help you regardless of whether the person in the family was a working spouse, a stay-at-home parent or a child.

A life insurance policy: Your fast pass to the nice list

We conducted a survey of 500 people in June 2021 this year and asking respondents about their life insurance. found that 59% of participants said they have an individual life insurance policy — an impressive 5% increase over last year.

Our insurance elves also asked participants for the top reasons they have a life insurance policy. Caring for a loved one and paying for funeral costs were the top reasons:

  • Care for loved ones after my death – 65%
  • Funeral and burial expenses – 50%
  • Pay off debt after I die – 23%
  • Pay the mortgage after I die – 18%
  • Child’s future education needs – 15%
  • Build cash value – 14%
  • High-risk job – 6%
  • Diversify investments – 6%
  • Other – 3%

We asked the 41% of respondents who don’t have a life insurance policy what’s the main reason. The number one reason had to do with cost.

  • Assume cost is too high – 27%
  • Saving/investing in other ways – 18%
  • Unemployed, so don’t think I need one – 15%
  • Tried to get one but too expensive – 14%
  • Didn’t feel like going through process – 7%
  • Too morbid – 3%
  • Tried to get one but declined – 2%
  • Other – 13%

We shared these numbers with Santa during our Zoom call, and his rosy cheeks glowed and his eyes twinkled brightly, “Nice list for them all this year!” he says, raising his glass of cinnamon cider. “It’s not easy to talk to loved ones about death or money, but the magic is that once you do it, you’ve made things so much easier on your loved ones. From that bit of discomfort comes so much security. It’s an incredibly selfless gift.”

Santa may know if you are sleeping or awake, but insurance companies do not

Survey participants were also asked if their life insurance beneficiaries are aware that they are a beneficiary. An overwhelming majority of respondents, 87%, said yes. This is great news!

Alerting beneficiaries that they are on your policy is critical, as very often, they are the people who report the death of the policyholder to the insurance company. Insurance companies are not automatically contacted upon a person’s death. In worst-case scenarios, the policy may even lapse due to lack of payment if the company is not alerted promptly.

For the 13% who have not told their loved one that they are a beneficiary of the holder’s policy, what is the reason they don’t know? Most of the issues involve not wanting to talk about death or money.

  • Uncomfortable discussing the topic of death – 36%
  • Uncomfortable discussing the topic of money – 29%
  • Unaware of the need to notify the beneficiaries – 24%
  • Don’t know the steps to take or what to tell them – 19%
  • Afraid those who aren’t beneficiaries finding out – 17%
  • Worried that it may make them not want me to live a long life – 12%
  • Other – 11%

“Those conversations don’t have to be as scary or sad as they seem,” says Santa. “As a matter of fact, I believe when Mrs. Claus, the head elves and I were first discussing this, we set out a large plate of warm cookies for everyone to enjoy around the table together.”

“It was a little uncomfortable at first,” admits Mrs. Claus, “but after we realized all we were doing was making smart plans for the future, we relaxed and got through it together. I can’t tell you how much more peace of mind I have knowing that I could keep Santa’s legacy alive for children around the world.”

When’s the best time to broach the topic of life insurance with your family and loved ones? Most respondents said any time works.

  • Any time – 65%
  • When someone is in failing health – 9%
  • After a major life event (baby born, buying a house, etc.) – 8%
  • When starting a new job – 5%
  • At a regular family dinner – 4%
  • End of year when making plans for the next year – 3%
  • Beginning of the year as take stock of finances – 3%
  • Thanksgiving (family is together) – 2%
  • Christmas (when extended family is gathered) – 1%
  • Other – 1%

You can get a life insurance policy In less time than it takes to trim the tree

You’re thinking about getting life insurance, so your loved ones are cared for when you’re gone. Where do you start? The elves at created the life insurance calculator to help you evaluate your life insurance needs. Once you’ve set your goals for a policy, you can quickly and confidently compare rates at some of the best life insurance companies in the country.

“I can think of no better gift than one that comes from the heart and creates peace for your loved ones – and I usually think up some pretty great gifts,” says Santa, who chuckles with his belly shaking like a bowl full of jelly.



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