Wall Street Bonuses Seen at Record $21.5B

Wall Street bonuses are expected to have risen to a record $21.5 billion in 2005 from $18.6 billion in 2004 as financial sector revenues surged, New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said Wednesday.

Last year's bonuses beat the record of $19.5 billion set in 2000 at the peak of the equities boom, Hevesi said during a conference call with reporters.

"2000 was the peak of the greatest boom in our modern history. It was a remarkable time, so this is very good news," Hevesi said.

Wall Street is the prime engine of growth for both New York City and New York State, so the profitability of the financial sector is key for the area's economy.

New York's financial sector employs about 174,000 people, according to Hevesi's estimates.

Hevesi said the average bonus in 2005 was $125,500 — or $25,000 more than in 2000.

"The reason for this is financial sector revenues are up dramatically in the first three quarters of 2005, up 44.5 percent. That's gross revenue," Hevesi said.

The state's Democratic comptroller said profits also were up "substantially," but were modified by interest rates.

Tax revenue collection from the financial services industry reached $1.5 billion, marking an increase of $200 million from the previous year, Hevesi added.