The average cash bonus paid to financial services employees for 2013 was $164,530, a 15 percent rise, according to an annual report released by the New York State Comptroller.
This was the biggest average bonus since 2007, before the financial crisis struck in 2008. Overall, financial services employees earned a total of $26.7 billion in bonuses last year, which includes everybody from lowest-ranking employees to chief executives.
"Wall Street navigated through some rough patches last year and had a profitable year in 2013. Securities industry employees took home significantly higher bonuses on average," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "Although profits were lower than the prior year, the industry still had a good year in 2013 despite costly legal settlements and higher interest rates. Wall Street continues to demonstrate resilience as it evolves in a changing regulatory environment."
DiNapoli estimated that the higher bonuses could translate into $100 million in tax revenue for the city in the current fiscal year. The city collected $3.8 billion in taxes from Wall Street firms in 2013, the second-highest level on record.
Even though profits for such firms fell 30 percent to $16.7 billion amid a challenging financial market, financial firms are still reluctant to pay big money to retain talent. Some of these bonuses had been granted in previous years, as Wall Street firms deferred some of these payments to keep costs under control.
Despite a revival in the financial sector, firms are not hiring as many people as they used to pre-crisis. DiNapoli estimates that the securities industry employed 165,200 workers in New York City in December 2013, which is 12.6 percent less than before the crisis.
The securities industry in New York accounted for 22 percent of all private sector wages paid in 2012, even though it only accounts for 5 percent of the city's private sector jobs.