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Wall Street bonuses averaged $138,210, comptroller says

The Wall Street bull in Manhattan's financial district

The Wall Street bull in Manhattan's financial district on Jan. 22, 2007. Credit: Getty Images

Bonuses earned last year by Wall Street employees edged up 1 percent to $138,210 on average, according to a new report.

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said yesterday an estimated $23.9 billion in bonuses have been paid between December and this month for work performed last year.

Wall Street bonuses boost the economy of New York City, as well as that of Long Island and the entire state. Bonus recipients contribute an outsized amount of tax revenue to the city and state.

About 20 percent of Long Islanders commute to the city for jobs, many of them on Wall Street, according to research by the Long Island Association business group and the Center for An Urban Future in Manhattan. Bonus recipients often purchase vacation homes on the East End, as well as automobiles and boats.

“Bonuses were up slightly . . . as the industry held the line on compensation,” said DiNapoli, of Great Neck Plaza.

He based the size of the average bonus on total employment in the securities industry in the second half of 2016, but not all workers received a bonus.

The average salary, including bonuses, was $388,000 in 2015 for industry workers in New York City, according to the most recent available data. Nearly one-quarter earned more than $250,000 in salary and bonuses.

Last year, the securities industry in the city added 3,800 jobs to reach total employment of 177,000. That’s the highest level since the 2007-09 financial crisis.

However, while the industry has added jobs for the past three years, its total workforce is still 6 percent smaller than it was before the crisis.

While bonuses were barely up, profits at Wall Street firms rose 21 percent last year from 2015 — even though revenue declined after the stock market slumped in the first half of 2016, according to data from firms that are members of the New York Stock Exchange.

Stock brokerages in New York City had pretax profits of $17.3 billion last year, up from $14.3 billion in 2015, reversing a three-year trend of declining profits.

“Wall Street profits bounced back strong in 2016,” DiNapoli said. “Lower costs more than made up for the continued decline in revenues.”

He said stock brokerages increased profit by reducing noncompensation expenses, such as legal settlements with federal and state governments.


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