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Suffolk County securities workers' pay tops in nation, comptroller reports

The county's average compensation, including salary and bonuses, of $599,800 for its securities industry workers in 2017 surpassed New York City's average of $422,500.

The state comptoller says Wall Street has profited

The state comptoller says Wall Street has profited every year since the end of the recession in 2009, and the industry is on track for another good year. Above, the New York Stock Exchange in 2016. Photo Credit: AP/Richard Drew

Suffolk County securities industry workers have the highest average compensation of any county in the nation, a new report says.

The county's average compensation, including salary and bonuses, of $599,800 for its securities industry workers in 2017 surpassed New York City's average of $422,500, according to the report issued Monday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Suffolk's average compensation in 2016 was $573,700.

The report said that the average securities industry compensation for Long Island overall, "boosted by the presence of hedge-fund firms in Suffolk County," grew by 10 percent in 2017 to $389,000, up from $353,700 in 2016.

Arguably the most prominent securities industry firm on Long Island is Renaissance Technologies LLC, based in East Setauket.

Renaissance was founded by former government code-breaker and Stony Brook mathematics department chair James Simons in the 1980s. Renaissance was ranked the third largest hedge fund based on assets at the end of 2017, according to Institutional Investor magazine.

Forbes magazine's "rich list," released in March, named Simons as the wealthiest person on Long Island, with a net worth of $20 billion.

A representative of Renaissance, which also has offices in Manhattan, declined to comment on the firm's impact.

The average compensation for Nassau County's securities industry employees climbed to $226,600 in 2017, a 37.3 percent increase from $165,000 in 2016.

Though Long Island's average securities industry salary narrowly trailed that of New York City in 2017, it outstripped that of Hudson Valley neighbor Westchester County, which grew by 3 percent to $264,700 in 2017.

New York State topped the nation with a 2017 average securities industry salary of $403,100, up 12 percent compared to 2016. Connecticut trailed the Empire State with $316,400, a 7 percent year-over-year increase.

“Wall Street has profited every year since the end of the recession in 2009, and compensation last year reached its highest point since the financial crisis," DiNapoli said in a statement, referring to the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008. "The industry is on track for another good year absent a major setback later in the year."

Thirty-eight percent of New York City's securities industry employees commuted from outside the city in 2016, with about 6 percent of the workers (5.3 percent from Nassau and 1 percent from Suffolk) coming from Long Island. One-fifth of the workforce came from New Jersey, and another 6 percent came from Westchester County.

John Rizzo, chief economist of the Long Island Association business group, said public transportation initiatives like the LIRR third-track project could narrow the "striking" discrepancy between the number of New Jerseyites versus Long Islanders commuting to securities industry jobs in the city.

New York State has more securities industry jobs than any other state in the nation: 197,300 in 2017, with 176,900 of those in New York City.

Overall, Wall Street posted $24.5 billion in pretax profits in 2017, rising 42 percent from 2016's figures. Profits for the first half of 2018 stand at $13.7 billion, 11 percent higher than the same period last year.

Securities jobs have the highest average compensation of any occupation in the city. They account for 21 percent of all private-sector wages in the city but make up less than 5 percent of all private-sector jobs.

DiNapoli's report found that the securities industry continues to be dominated by men; they make up more than two-thirds of the total securities industry jobs in the city. Nearly two-thirds of those in the business are white.

The report found that the industry and its workers paid $14 billion in taxes to state coffers — or nearly 20 percent of all state tax collections last year.

"However you feel about Wall Street, positive or negative, when we have good news on profits, that's certainly a positive," DiNapoli said.

In March 2018 DiNapoli estimated the average bonus for securities industry employees in New York City increased by 17 percent to $184,200. After adjusting for inflation, it was the highest average bonus in a decade and the fourth-highest on record. Bonuses accounted for an estimated 40 percent of securities industry wages in 2017, a larger share than in any other major industry in New York City. -- With The Associated Press

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