NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The jolly old fellow flies non-stop around the world within 24 hours, scales rooftops and clambers down chimneys, while hauling a pile of parcels that would make a strapping UPS carrier weep. All for less than $138,000 a year.

If the mystical man quits, we're sunk. Who's going to take that job?

In a yearly analysis of the comparable pay for what Santa Claus does, Insure.com estimates his work is worth $137,795 this year. The beefy bearer of good tidings didn't get much of a raise: last year Santa's potential salary was $134,944.

To calculate the value of the job, the insurer estimated the number of hours he might spend at each important task – database maintenance on the list of naughty and nice, ID verification, workshop management, delivery driving and all the rest, and then used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the closest matching occupations and average hourly wages.

It's a thankless job. When asked how much Santa should be paid, 37% of Americans said nothing. That's right, zilch – they think it should be a non-paying volunteer effort.

Others were a bit more impressed with his expansive job responsibilities. More than one-quarter (27%) said Santa should make a tidy $1.8 billion a year -- approximately $1 for every child under the age of 15 in the world. More fiscally responsible respondents said between $100,000 and $200,000 a year (15%), while the least generous, and perhaps the naughtiest among us, 12% said under $100,000 a year.

"The disparity between the two most popular answers reveals that Santa's salary is a controversial topic," said Amy Danise, editorial director of Insure.com. "Many people have come to expect free delivery, even in this cold economy. They want their presents sealed with 'Santa Prime' tape."

Should Santa be unable to fulfill his annual duties, perhaps suffering from a brutal North Pole cold, actor Tim Allen was the most popular choice (27%) for a fill-in, based on his past "job experience." Other popular potential temps were John Goodman 15%, Tom Hanks (13%), and believe it or not, Billy Bob Thornton (2%).

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet