On Wall Street, Fewer Jobs but Bigger Paychecks
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The Fiscal Times
October 10, 2012

The stock market may be up sharply this year and Wall Street profits may be on pace to double from 2011 levels, but the number of securities industry jobs is shrinking and the bonus pool is getting shallower, according to a new report by New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Still, those working in the securities business in New York are swimming in relative riches, with average salaries that swelled by 16.6 percent from 2009 to 2011.

The securities industry accounted for about 169,000 New York jobs as of August, representing a net loss of 1,200 jobs on the year. Despite job gains throughout 2010 and much of 2011, Wall Street has still lost more than 20,000 jobs since the crisis began in November 2007. The industry has regained just 28 percent of the jobs lost during the downturn, according to the report, leaving other, often lower-paying sectors, to propel New York City’s economic recovery.

But while Wall Street hasn’t rebounded as strongly as other parts of the New York economy, total compensation for those in the securities industry has grown faster than for other workers in the wake of the downturn.

The average salary, including bonuses, paid to Wall Street workers reached $362,950 last year, higher than in any year before payouts peaked in 2007 and 2008. Wall Street wages are more than five times higher than the average pay for workers across the rest of the city’s private sector.

Overall, between 2009 and 2011, the total wages paid to securities industry workers grew at an average annual rate of 8.7 percent. Total wages for all other private sector jobs grew 5.3 percent. Last year, total wages for workers in the securities industry rose 4 percent to nearly $61 billion, also the highest level since the financial crisis. The industry accounted for 5.3 percent of jobs in New York City – and 23.2 percent of all private sector wages.

But those figures only extend through 2011. This year, the DiNapoli report indicates, Wall Street workers may once again be disappointed when they get their annual bonus checks. Nearly half of the more than 900 financial market workers surveyed recently by eFinancialCareers expect their bonus to be higher this year, but the DiNapoli report suggests otherwise. The comptroller had estimated earlier this year that cash bonuses in 2011 fell 13.5 percent to just under $20 billion. The average cash bonus was just over $121,000, according to the estimate released in February. “Based on data for the first half of 2012, the cash bonus pool is likely to decline for the second consecutive year, although it is still too early to predict by how much,” the report says.

Executive Editor Yuval Rosenberg oversees coverage of business, the economy, technology and Wall Street. A former web editor at WNYC, Fortune and Newsweek, he also writes on a wide range of subjects.