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The holidays are always a magical time of year. Bright lights, warm beverages and extra quality time with friends and family are what make the days remarkable. But for the editors at, nothing signals the start of the holiday season quite like the annual Santa Index. (We know, we’re insurance nerds.)

Using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) salary information for comparable jobs, the elves calculate an annual salary for the Man With the Bag each year 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. 

Some of those jobs, like his infamous “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” only last about an hour on Christmas eve — pretty quick for a man visiting 195 different countries. Others, such as running the workshop or taking care of the reindeer, are done daily throughout the year. 

But these are just some of Santa’s myriad tasks. He does deliver gifts to the entire world in one night, after all.

Kris Kringle saw a 2% wage increase

Operations are still strong and efficient at North Pole headquarters, with Santa seeing a slight increase in wages since last year. A magically tireless work ethic has made Santa a very valuable employee, as his salary rose by about 2% to $162,555 this year. 

However, the jump in salary isn’t as big as last year, when Santa’s income increased by 6%. And it isn’t keeping up with inflation, with prices up more than 7% in November from the same month a year ago. While 2022’s growth is not as high, the increase highlights that there is still a strong and upward demand for the magic of the season. 

Old Saint Nick saw wage increases in 10 out of 15 categories. Jobs with the largest increase in this year’s index were:

  • Gift wrapper / Packer: 6%
  • Letter reader / Correspondence clerk: 4%
  • Taking care of reindeer / Farmworker: 4%

Santa’s jobs that saw wage decreases this year include:

  • Cookie and milk taster / Agricultural inspector: -3%
  • Personal shopper / Sales worker: -2%
  • Going down chimneys / Building cleaner: -1%

Additionally, Santa’s job of riding the sleigh did not see any wage change. 

JobHours per dayDays per yearHours per year2020 Mean hourly wage2021 Mean hourly wage2020 Annual earnings (rounded)2021 Annual earnings (rounded)Change from last year (rounded)
Running the workshop83642912$45.01$45.77$131,069$133,2822%
Professional shopper815120$19.11$18.67$2,293$2,240-2%
Gift wrapper1214168$14.07$14.88$2,364$2,5006%
Labor negotiator (with elves)0.5365182.5$36.00$37.05$6,570$6,7623%
Letter reader1100100$19.26$20.06$1,926$2,0064%
Sitting in the mall to speak with children821168$18.51$18.79$3,110$3,1572%
Investigator (knows if you’ve been good or bad)13030$28.89$29.31$867$8791%
List checker (checking it twice)13030$21.20$21.70$636$6512%
Taking care of reindeer1365365$14.93$15.46$5,449$5,6434%
Snow plow driver (at the North Pole)0.5360180$20.77$21.32$3,739$3,8383%
Sleigh pilot10110$100$100$1,000$1,0000%
Going down chimneys10110$18.68$18.52$187$185-1%
Cookie & milk taster10110$23.38$22.80$234$228-3%
Distributor (placing gifts under the tree)10110$17.89$18.37$179$1843%
Announcer (Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!)0.0110.01$27.55$26.97$0.28$0.27-4%

During the holidays, life insurance is the gift that keeps giving

Santa knows money doesn’t solve everything, but he also knows it pays the bills. This holiday season, consider giving the gift of life insurance. 

Life insurance isn’t typically what comes to mind when you’re shopping for something special for your loved ones — but its value shouldn’t be discounted. Buying coverage provides your loved ones with financial protection for the long term. A policy secures your beneficiaries’ financial health for years down the road. 

“Insurance is helpful for everyone – because the unthinkable can happen at any time,” says Nichole Myers, chief underwriter at life insurer Ethos.

Life insurance beneficiaries can use the money to pay for:

  • Funeral or cremation costs
  • Bills and everyday expenses 
  • Mortgage or rent payments
  • Childcare
  • Car payments
  • College tuition

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

The nice list: What to consider in a life insurance policy

We admit it — life insurance isn’t a topic that invokes the warm feelings of the holiday season. It does, however, provide financial security for family members if you die. 

So, who should consider purchasing a life insurance policy? If you’re the primary breadwinner in the home, or your financial contributions are crucial to your family, purchasing a life insurance policy is essential. It’s also a good option for primary caretakers who have long-term dependents. 

“Life insurance — aside from providing the beneficiary a payout when you pass away — gives them the gift of security. [Your family] knows they are taken care of when that day comes, and they won’t have to worry for a second about finances or how they will make their next mortgage payment, car payment, or how they will go on without your income to support them. It gives a gift of peace,” says Noah White, founder of Ark Insurance Group

When shopping for a policy, there are different types of life insurance and outcomes to consider. The two most popular options are:

  • Term life insurance: Term life insurance is the most straightforward type of coverage and the best fit for most people. It is also generally the most affordable type of life insurance policy. You can choose a policy that lasts between 10 and 40 years. 
  • Permanent life insurance: A permanent life insurance is more expensive and extensive than term insurance —  it lasts your entire life, as long as you pay the premiums. It also comes with a cash value component that acts like an investment account. Because of this, it is typically much more expensive than term life insurance. There are multiple types of permanent policies to choose from: whole, universal and variable.  

Before you buy coverage, you’ll also need to figure out how much you need. 

“Consider how much protection you want for your family and how much you can afford to spend now,” says Myers. 

Experts recommend getting at least 10 times your income, but like Myers said, be aware of your own needs and budget.

You can get a life insurance policy faster than a reindeer flies 

In between the shopping, wrapping and festivities of the season, getting a life insurance policy can be easily added to your holiday prep list. You can get life insurance online or buy a policy that forgoes the medical exam to expedite the process. Many of these policies offer policies within days, and some offer coverage within minutes. 

The application process usually includes an initial phone call, 30-minute medical exam, and then a final decision. Once you approve the terms of your life insurance policy, you’ll sign the final paperwork and pay your first premium. After that, your policy will be active. 

“Life insurance is a ‘love letter’ to those you care about. If someone truly loves their family, not having insurance means the family must figure out how to survive financially without the income of [the] uninsured,” says Guy Baker, founder of Wealth Teams Alliance, a financial advisory firm. “There is no better way to protect the financial security of the family, in the case of death, than owning sufficient life insurance,

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



U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). “Inside the decline of sales occupations.” Accessed December 2022.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). “Occupational employment and wage statistics.” Accessed December 2022.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). “Projections of the U.S. economy, 2021-31.” Accessed December 2022.


Mean hourly wages are based on recent occupational wage data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual wage and percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number. Sums may add up to more than 100. The editors determine the hours and weeks each occupation is performed based on their research and the values assigned to those tasks in past indexes.