Reindeer Handlers, Unite Against Low Pay

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Stephen Chernin / Getty Images

A sample of the overwhelming merchandise related to the Harry Potter book series and movies.

As a journalist, I know from retarded press releases. As a workplace correspondent, though, I’m usually spared the worst of the worst: most of the pitches I get involve employment studies and management books and companies that think they’re doing fun and innovative things in HR.

In other words, the press releases I get are usually pretty straightforward. (Though I’ll always remember one, pitching an M&A expert as a source, that opened with: “Dear Lisa: Most people remember the merger between Time Warner and AOL as the worst in history…” Yeah. Thanks. As if my permanently underwater premerger stock options aren’t enough of a reminder. Insulting my employer and my 401(k) is a genius way to get me to return your calls.)

Here’s one I have to post, if only for a little holiday levity. Some eggnog-nipping PR type for–an otherwise useful job-search site–decided to dress up some Department of Labor stats and call it a survey of salaries at Santa’s workshop.

Say what?

Here’s SnagAJob’s so-called breakdown of elf hourly wages according to the 2006 Elf Wage Index:

Elf Position Mean Hourly Wage (equivalent DoL* occupation)

Candy makers $10.82 (Sugar and confectionery product manufacturing)

Reindeer handler $14.19 (Animal Trainers)

Basic toy maker $14.37 (Production Occupations, including: wood workers, fabric cutters, sewers, cutters, trimmers, leather workers, wood workers, machine tool setters)

Hi-tech toy maker $15.41 (Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators)

Sleigh maintenance $23.68 (aircraft mechanics, service technician)

Santa’s list keeper $30.41 (database administrators)

Sleigh traffic controller $50.88 (air traffic controller)

Get it? Animal trainers are “reindeer handlers”; database administrators are “Santa’s list keepers.” It even comes with a footnote:

*Elf wages are based on average hourly wages, as compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, for positions equivalent to the corresponding elf job requirements.

I’d like to know how the reindeer handlers feel about those Purell-loving sleigh-traffic controllers earning four times their pay. I know I’d be demanding some poop-handling compensation in the Christmas bonus.