Study: Wall Street Pay Averages $300,000 Per Year

Wall Street workers took home nearly $300,000 on average last year as profits from trading and merger advising fueled record earnings, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said.

Wall Street compensation averaged $289,664 per person, 5.1 times the average $56,634 for workers citywide, the comptroller said in a study released Tuesday. The highest-paid bankers and traders can command eight-figure pay packages.

Bonuses totaled a record $21.5 billion, or $125,500 per person. The securities industry paid out $48.8 billion, while generating $2.1 billion of taxes for the city, Hevesi said.

Wall Street compensation increased 21.9 percent in 2004 and another 11.8 percent in 2005, Hevesi said. The securities industry accounts for 4.7 percent of citywide employment, but 20.6 percent of its wages.

Industry employment is also on the rise, up to 170,800 last year from 161,300 in 2003.

The new jobs restore one-third of those lost during the three-year bear market that began in 2000 as the technology and telecommunications bubble burst. Another 6,300 jobs have been added this year, Hevesi said.

"Wall Street is recovering," Hevesi said in a statement. "And, as we have seen in the past, when Wall Street does well, the city does well."

Pretax profit at seven major New York City-based securities firms — Bear Stearns Cos., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEH), Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER), Morgan Stanley and investment bank units of Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s (JPM) — rose 42.5 percent last year to $45 billion, Hevesi said.

On Tuesday, Merrill said third-quarter operating profit rose 41 percent to $1.94 billion, or $2 per share, topping analysts' average forecast for $1.47 per share.

Quarterly results at Bear, Goldman, Lehman and Morgan Stanley also topped forecasts. JPMorgan reports results Wednesday, and Citigroup (C) Thursday.

Securities industry employment nationwide totaled 801,300 at the end of August, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier and the most since April 2002, Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

The median annual full-time salary for all American workers 16 and older was $34,268 in the second quarter, BLS data show.