Chimneys Weep: Obama Economy Sacks Santa
President Barack Obama's economy is even putting Santa Claus out of work.
Even though the unemployment rate in November dropped to 7.7%, Santa Clauses, once thought to be recession-proof, are having a more difficult time finding employment this holiday season.
Jennifer Andrews, who is a headmaster of a "Santa School" that trains and then books Santas with stores and malls throughout the United States, said the "number of Santas out there looking for work has grown."
Part of the problem, according to Santa experts, is that during the Great Recession, baby boomers tried to supplement their incomes by becoming Santas as malls and stores had to cut back on the number of Santas they could afford to employ during a down economy.
Tim Connaghan, CEO of The Kringle Group, an agency that represents 2,200 Santas on its books, said many think being a Santa Claus will bring them easy money.
This is not the case, though, since there is a "a finite number of television commercials and shopping malls to go around – and many locations hire more than a year in advance."
As the Journal notes, the Mall of America in Minnesota, which attracts 40 million visitors a year, has just two official Santas.
According to industry experts, seasonal pay for Santas at high-end shopping malls has been lucrative in the past, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. In addition, Santas have been able to charge anywhere from $100 to $250 an hour for personal appearances.
But in a down economy, Santas are realizing that there are fewer opportunities for personal bookings at parties and private events.