In 2016, Ol' Saint Nick didn't quite earn the 3.1 percent increase that the average U.S. employee received, but according to's Santa Index and survey, the Clause still has cause to be jolly. surveyed 1,000 respondents to find out their thoughts on Santa's salary, the most effective ways to save for gifts, and what is really important this holiday season.

The value of Santa's jobs

Using a pre-set list of tasks matched to occupations and wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that Santa Claus earned a salary of $146,308.51, up 2.2 percent from last year. According to the Social Security Administration, the 2015 national annual wage was $48,099, so Santa isn't doing too badly for himself with that work-from-home gig. He may not have days off or break-room bagels, but roles such as Cookie Taster and Sleigh Pilot make it an enviable job.

Turns out, only 7 percent of respondents think that Santa is in the right salary range.
  • 18% think Santa should earn more than $300,001
  • 17% think he should make between $50,001 and $75,000
  • 14% chose $75,001-$100,000
  • 13% feel Santa should be paid $100,001-$150,000
  • 12% selected $25,001-$50,000
  • 8% believe Santa should not receive any salary
  • 7% selected Santa's current range of $150,001-$200,000
  • 7% reported Santa should earn less than $25,000
  • 4% chose a range of $200,001-$300,000

Most respondents who said Santa shouldn't get paid said Santa does what he does out of the goodness of his heart and therefore doesn't need a salary.

Take a look at's list of Santa's jobs, and ask yourself how much you think Kris Kringle's job is worth.

The Santa Index 2016

Santa's job BLS occupation title Hours per day Days per year Hours per year Mean hourly wage Annual earnings Change from LY
Running the workshop Industrial Engineers 8 364 2912 $41.82 $121,779.84 2%
Professional shopper Sales and Related Workers, All Other 8 15 120 $19.49 $2,338.80 6%
Wrapper of gifts Packers and Packagers, Hand 12 14 168 $11.40 $1,915.20 3%
Labor negotiator (with elves) Labor Relations Specialists 0.5 365 182.5 $29.30 $5,347.25 3%
Letter reader Correspondence Clerks 1 100 100 $17.47 $1,747.00 0%
Sitting in mall to speak with children Customer Service Representatives 8 21 168 $16.62 $2,792.16 2%
Investigator (knows if you've been good or bad) Private Detectives and Investigators 1 30 30 $25.41 $762.30 0%
List checker (checking it twice) Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks 1 30 30 $18.74 $562.20 2%
Taking care of reindeer Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Agricultural Animals 1 365 365 $12.58 $4,591.70 4%
Snow plow driver (at the North Pole) Highway Maintenance Workers 0.5 360 180 $18.36 $3,304.80 1%
Pilot of sleigh Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers 10 1 10 $65.58 $655.77 3%
Going down chimneys Building Cleaning Workers, All Other (Chimney Sweeper) 10 1 10 $14.52 $145.20 1%
Cookie & milk taster Agricultural Inspectors 10 1 10 $21.06 $210.60 0%
Distributor (placing gifts under the tree) Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks 10 1 10 $15.55 $155.50 2%
Announcer ("Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!") Public Address System and Other Announcers 0.01 1 0.01 $19.44 $0.19 5%

Santa's total salary for 2016       $146,308.51         2%


For the rest of us not making $146,309 a year…

The holidays can be a source of immense financial stress. For many people, November and December means a large amount of money spent on gifts.

This year, the majority of respondents, 30 percent, indicated that they plan to spend between $501-$1,000 total on gifts.

  • 30% spend between $501-$1,000
  • 25% spend between $251-$500
  • 16% spend between $101-$250
  • 13% spend $1,001-$2,000
  • 7% spend more than $2,001
  • 6% spend less than $100
  • 3% do not spend money of gifts

Whether you're shopping for a just a few people or a large number of family and friends, everyone is interested in making the most of their holiday budget. Respondents agreed that these are the three best saving strategies for all those gifts:
  • Buy presents throughout the year.
  • Set a dollar limit per recipient or gift.
  • Use a credit card to earn points and rewards to redeem for gifts.

Taking care of family

Beyond the hubbub of the shopping malls and the daily emails about “can't-miss” deals, this time of year usually puts into sharp focus the love we have for our families. We feel gratitude for the food on the table and the warm hearth where we gather. Taking care of our family is the best gift we have to give.

At, we present the Santa Index to remind everyone of the value of personal income and protecting that income with life insurance.  If you were to die, would your family have enough money to continue to cover your mortgage, car payments, grocery and power bills without interruption or worry? Would your children be able to pursue their education?

Life insurance: an unlikely topic

Consider taking time when your family is gathered this season to talk about what plans are in place. Sure, maybe wait until the turkey has been carved and the wassail has been drunk, but this unusual topic can provide a surprising amount of peace of mind for your family members. 

What's stopping you?

According to our survey, 31 percent of those surveyed said the holidays are not appropriate times to discuss life insurance. But if you think vacation time, when your whole family can have a discussion about what happens to an estate together, is a bad time, waiting until someone dies is even worse.  In that scenario, family members are often left without a financial safety net or have no idea how to find and administer benefits of a policy if one is in place.

Besides, 36 percent of respondents already have a plan in place for their family, which means the sooner you put a plan in place, then there's even more time for board games and your uncle's terrible karaoke!

Twelve percent of respondents said that they don't discuss life insurance because they can't afford it - but don't let that stop you, because you may be mistaken. In our survey, 86 percent of people guessed too high at the monthly cost of a $250,000 20-year term life policy monthly for a healthy 30-year-old consumer, which can be as low as $13 per month.

Think about all the money you have spent on gifts this year, $13 a month in order to protect your family should the worst happen could be the best holiday present you've ever given. receives compensation from carriers when readers choose to request insurance quotes. This article is provided by an external partner that is solely responsible for the content.