Making Bank: Wall Streeters Are Earning More Than Ever Before

A Wall Street road sign is pictured near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) building on October 16, 2014 in New York. US stocks dropped sharply in early trade Thursday, following international markets downward as anxiety over global growth continued to prompt selling. About 30 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 16,062.34, down 79.40 points (0.49 percent). AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

If you work on Wall Street, you’re pulling in bigger bucks than ever before.

Wall Street pay set a new record last year, according to a report out Tuesday from the New York State Comptroller’s office, with the average salary (including bonuses) rising 14% to $404,800.

This is the first time since 2007 that the average pay on Wall Street has exceeded $400,000 and is the third-highest annual pay on the books when you adjust for inflation.

The rise in pay has been propelled by larger bonuses, which rose 2% to $172,900 last year. The only times that workers collected bigger bonuses were in the two years leading up to the financial crisis.

As New York City dwellers are well-aware, someone with a job on Wall Street is making a lot more money than their neighbors. Here’s just how much: Average salaries on Wall Street were almost six times higher than the average salary of $72,300 at other NYC private-sector companies last year. The pace of wage growth on Wall Street has far outstripped other industries in the last 30 years, too. In 1981, Wall Street workers were making just twice as much as the average employee in the city’s private sector.

There’s a disproportionate number of high-earners in finance, which helps bolster the numbers. Some 23% of Wall Street workers pulled in more than a quarter million dollars in 2013, the latest year in which there is data available, while less than 3% of the city’s other workers can say the same.

While Wall Street is still 9% smaller than before the recession and the industry has undergone years of downsizing, the number of people being hired is finally growing. In fact, Wall Street added 2,300 jobs in 2014, which was the first year of gains since 2011.

Still, recent financial turmoil could potentially derail that. “After a very strong first half of the year, the securities industry faces volatile financial markets and an unsteady global economy,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in a statement. “After years of downsizing, the industry has been adding jobs in New York City, but it may curtail hiring to bolster profits.”

The city depends on Wall Street not only to pad its tax coffers, but to generate jobs and support the local economy.

Lauren Gensler

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