By Jeeves, We're Having a Butler Shortage The world is running short on butlers. No, really. The number of wealthy individuals who will pay $50,000 and up for a well-trained butler has outstripped the number of people prepared to execute those jobs with grace and precision.
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By Jeeves, We're Having a Butler Shortage

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By Jeeves, We're Having a Butler Shortage

By Jeeves, We're Having a Butler Shortage

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Demand for butlers is up. Now, I don't know if it's two-doctor households or an increase in billionaires, but apparently there are more jobs for butlers than actual butlers.

Charles MacPherson is vice chairman of the International Guild of Professional Butlers. He joins us from our studios in New York.

Thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. CHARLES MacPHERSON (International Guild of Professional Butlers): Hello. How are you?

SIMON: I'm fine, thanks, Mr. MacPherson. Now, why the growth in your industry?

Mr. MacPHERSON: It's actually two-fold. The first thing is that when you look at the Forbes list, there are more billionaires, let alone millionaires, than there ever have been. And as these people acquire more money, they acquire larger homes and actually multiple homes, and they start to realize that running these homes and dealing with plumbers and electrician and gardeners is just too much. So the demand for butlers has increased there.

But also the interesting thing that has happened is the demand in China is huge for butlers.

SIMON: But of course they do have an awful lot of new billionaires there.

Mr. MacPHERSON: They have an awful lot of new billionaires there. And so China is taking its supply of butlers, I should say, from the rest of the world.

SIMON: What is a butler?

Mr. MacPHERSON: A butler today will not only do service of household meals but he's really managing the staff, managing the household, managing, potentially, you know, finances. So they're really much more of a managerial role rather than a service role.

SIMON: What kind of financial future is there for a butler?

Mr. MacPHERSON: A butler that graduates from butler school right now could make an average of about $50-60,000. And we're placing butlers right now up to, you know, 150-175,000 per year, 401K, housing, car allowance, clothing allowance. So it's extremely lucrative when you're good at your job.

SIMON: And what does make someone a good butler?

Mr. MacPHERSON: I think the one key ingredient is anticipation, being able to look at your employer and to anticipate their needs and to try to be ready for that.

SIMON: Do you have a favorite butler in cinema or literature?

Mr. MacPHERSON: I got between two movies in particular, which is, of course, Anthony Hopkins in "The Remains of the Day."


Mr. MacPHERSON: And then the movie "Gosford Park," which I absolutely love, and the "Upstairs Downstairs" relationship in that movie. And both movies show an incredible amount of professionalism with the staff, so I'm very partial to them.

SIMON: Mr. MacPherson, did the butler do it?

Mr. MacPHERSON: The butler always does it because he's the one who knows what's going on and where the skeletons are, so chances are the butler always did.

SIMON: So you don't resent those jokes, huh, or those stories?

Mr. MacPHERSON: Absolutely not. I actually encourage them. I think there was a time that people looked at the domestic field as something that was, you know, for a lower class or for an uneducated person. I look at it as having given me opportunities in life that I never would have had otherwise.

SIMON: Mr. MacPherson, nice talking to you.

Mr. MacPHERSON: Always a pleasure. Keep well.

SIMON: Charles MacPherson, who is president and founder of Charles MacPherson Associates, a household management consulting firm, speaking from New York.

And this is NPR News.

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