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Wages are climbing for workers nationwide, and the trend appears to stretch up to the North Pole. 

Kris Kringle’s salary jumped 5% this year, based on an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

For more than 10 years, has looked at Santa’s key tasks to estimate his earnings. Using the most recent BLS salary information for comparable jobs, calculates Santa’s annual salary by assigning a value to each task Santa carries out. For this year’s index, we kept the jobs performed by Santa the same as last year. 

Adding up that pay information shows that old St. Nick’s duties would earn him $170,583 in today’s market, compared to $162,555 in 2022.

Breaking down Kris Kringle’s 5% wage increase

Santa’s 5% increase this year tops the 2% raise he received in 2022, but trails the 6% jump he saw in 2021. 

The increase is in line with the salary increases other workers have seen. A November report from BLS said that average hourly earnings increased by 4% over the previous 12 months. 

Wages increased in 14 of the 15 categories we looked at this year. Jobs with the most significant increases in this year’s index were: 

  • Professional shopper: 45%
  • Labor negotiator (with elves): 13%
  • Taking care of reindeer/farmworker: 13%
  • Sleigh pilot/pilot: 9%
  • Gift wrapper: 8%
  • Going down chimneys: 8%

Another job activity, announcer (as in “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”), saw a year-over-year salary increase of 178%, but it should be noted that BLS now includes in this category media streaming distribution services, social networks, and other media networks and content providers.

Just one job – “investigator,” with Santa sipping coffee in his sleigh and staking out your home to find out if you’ve been naughty or nice – decreased by 3%.

Of course, his yule may turn blue if — like the rest of us — he reflects on what inflation is doing to those wages. 

JobHours per dayDays per yearHours per year2021 Mean hourly wage2022 Mean hourly wage2021 Annual earnings (rounded)2022 Annual earnings (rounded)Change from last year (rounded)
Running the workshop83642,912$45.77$47.39$133,282$138,0004%
Professional shopper815120$18.67$27.13$2,240$3,25645%
Gift wrapper1214168$14.88$16.02$2,500$2,6918%
Labor negotiator (with elves)0.5365182.5$37.05$42.05$6,762$7,67413%
Letter reader1100100$20.06$20.46$2,006$2,0462%
Sitting in the mall to speak with children821168$18.79$19.80$3,157$3,3265%
Investigator (knows if you’ve been good or bad)13030$29.31$28.56$879$857-3%
List checker (checking it twice)13030$21.70$22.81$651$6845%
Taking care of reindeer1365365$15.46$17.45$5,643$6,36913%
Snow plow driver (at the North Pole)0.5360180$21.32$22.02$3,838$3,9643%
Sleigh pilot10110$100$108.52$1,000$1,0859%
Going down chimneys10110$18.52$19.89$185$1998%
Cookie & milk taster10110$22.80$23.57$228$2364%
Distributor (placing gifts under the tree)10110$18.37$19.45$184$1956%
Announcer (“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”)0.0110.01$26.97$74.87$0.27$0.75178%

Give the gift of life insurance

During the holidays, we get to experience the gift of quality time with loved ones. But there are also the material gifts we buy for our families, and you may be wondering what to give them.

Here’s an out-of-the-box idea: How about life insurance?

Purchasing a life insurance policy and making your family the beneficiaries could be the ultimate holiday gift, something that will long outlive a gift card or Christmas sweater. 

“Life insurance provides financial security for your loved ones,” says Brad Cummins, owner and principal agent of the independent insurance agency Insurance Geek

The right insurance policy can ensure your family is taken care of if you die unexpectedly. 

“It can cover expenses like mortgages, debts and education,” Cummins says.

Life insurance beneficiaries can also use the money to pay for:

  • Funeral or cremation costs
  • Bills and everyday expenses 
  • Rent payments
  • Child care
  • Car payments

Essentially, your beneficiaries can use the life insurance death benefit however they want. 

Alison Salka, senior vice president and director of research for LIMRA and LOMA, acknowledges that life insurance might not be the most traditional holiday gift. 

“But some gifts — like the gift of financial security — are more important than material things,” Salka says.

What to look for in a life insurance policy

If you decide to purchase a life insurance policy, you need to decide which type of coverage is right for you and your family. The two main options people choose between are: 

Term life insurance: This no-frills coverage lasts for a specified period of time as long as you pay your premiums. Terms usually run for between 10- and 40-years and coverage ends when you have fewer financial obligations. Once the term ends, so does your coverage. You will not build any cash value with this type of policy. 

Permanent life insurance: Unlike term life insurance, permanent life insurance lasts your entire life as long as you pay the premiums. In addition, permanent life policies allow you to build cash value over time, which acts as a pool of savings that grows tax-deferred and that you can tap into while you’re alive. This type of policy is a bit more complicated, and you’ll want to discuss your options with a certified financial planner before you buy.

Each of these types of policies has pros and cons. For example, term life insurance is usually much cheaper than permanent life insurance, but the coverage expires and you can’t use the policy as an investment.

On the other hand, permanent life insurance is more expensive, but it lasts your entire life and allows you to build cash value. 

Many people choose term life because they only need coverage for a specific period of time, such as during the years they are raising their children or while they have to make mortgage payments. Others buy permanent life insurance because they want lifelong coverage, hope to leave a legacy behind for loved ones, or they want to use life insurance as an investment.

Your own individual situation will determine the right type of policy — and the proper coverage amount — for you. Most experts recommend getting at least 10 to 15 times your income in life insurance coverage. You should also ensure that your life insurance policy covers your biggest financial obligations. For example, if you have a $500,000 mortgage that lasts 20 years, get a policy that covers that balance and term length.

Additionally, ensure your policy is current with every major life event.

“It’s often wise to reassess coverage needs during major life events like marriage, the birth of a child, or a home purchase,” Cummins says. 

Speaking to a certified financial planner is the best way to determine your life insurance needs and what type of policy is best suited for you.

Getting the best deal on life insurance

Whichever type of coverage you choose, it’s important to shop around for the best policy. 

“Gather quotes from multiple life insurance companies,” Salka says. “Different insurers may have varying underwriting criteria and pricing models, so exploring options can help you find a competitive rate.”

You should compare quotes from at least three to five insurance companies to ensure you’re getting the best possible price for coverage. You can also use an insurance broker to pull multiple quotes. 

Not sure where to start? Check out’s best life insurance companies and request a quote. 


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment Cost Index — September 2023.” Accessed December 2023.

Insurance Information Institute. “How to choose the right type of life insurance.” Accessed December 2023.

Progressive. “Can I donate my life insurance policy to charity?” Accessed December 2023.

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Chris Kissell
Contributing Researcher


Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with work featured on U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.