Wall Street Bonuses Climb To $20 Billion In 2012, According To New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

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By Carey Vanderborg | February 27, 2013 3:35 AM EST

Wall Street bonus estimates are higher in 2012 than in the year before, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Tuesday.

Cash bonuses paid to employees in the New York City securities industry are forecast to rise by 8 percent to $20 billion during 2012’s bonus season, according to an estimate released by the office of the comptroller.

“Wall Street is still in transition, but it is slowly adjusting to changes in its economic and regulatory environment,” DiNapoli said in a statement. "Profits and bonuses rebounded in 2012, but the industry is still restructuring. Despite its smaller size, the securities industry is still a very important part of the New York City and New York State economies."

DiNapoli reported that the average cash bonus rose by an estimated 9 percent to almost $121,900 in 2012, but said the pool was shared among fewer workers than in 2011.

Reports indicate that employment totaled 169,700 jobs as of December 2012 -- 1,000 fewer jobs than one year earlier. DiNapoli believes the industry will continue to restructure and downsize until a new business paradigm is established, according to the statement.

The comptroller goes on to suggest that the current recovery in New York City is being driven by industries other than securities as the securities industry lost 28,300 jobs during the financial crisis and has added only 8,500 so far during the recovery -- a net loss of 19,800 jobs.

Despite the job losses and a slow turnaround, the average salary, including bonuses, in the securities industry in New York City is estimated at $362,900 in 2011. (Wage data is not yet available for all of 2012.) This was a higher average than before the financial crisis and was the highest average among New York City’s major industries.

In fiscal 2008, Wall Street accounted for more than 20 percent of New York state’s tax revenue and 12 percent of New York City’s. By fiscal 2011, those percentages had dropped to 14 percent and 7 percent, respectively, DiNapoli said.

The increase in bonuses forecast by the Comptroller is consistent with the expectations in budgets of New York City and New York State, according to the statement.

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