KCLU 88.3FM - 102.3FM - 1340AM

Listen Now Fresh Air 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Without Magic, Santa Would Need 12 Million Employees

Wed, December 19, 2012 9:28pm

Story by Chana Joffe-Walt




Listen to this story on npr.org »

There are 760 million Christian children in the world, according to the Pew Research Center. Suppose Santa delivers one gift to each child. What kind of delivery workforce would Santa need?

We couldn't get an interview with Santa. But we did get Paul Tronsor from FedEx and Mike Mangeot from UPS. They helped us go through the numbers.

Here are just a few of the positions Santa would need to fill to pull off Christmas. (Note: For the complete list, see the graphic at the bottom.)

* 46 international distribution centers, to allow Santa to reload as he crosses the globe. That means 400,000 workers for loading presents onto Santa's sleigh.

* 60,000 workers to develop optimized flight plans and communicate with the FAA, secure flyover rights, etc.

* 7,000 people monitoring demand and tweaking his route in real time.

* 100 meteorologists to make sure Santa doesn't fly into a blizzard.

* 40,000 people to help Santa clear customs.

To give you a sense of how big that team is, that's 40 times the number of employees at FedEx:

Mike from UPS can think through all those teams and all those workers, but there's still something that's a mystery for him: the sleigh. Not only does it have to move fast enough to deliver 9,000 presents a second, but estimating conservatively that each present weighs about a pound, Mike says it would have to haul 760 million pounds of cargo. Which would take nearly three hundred 747 planes to haul. Or perhaps just nine reindeer.

This is what the whole workforce looks like:

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.