Average Wall Street bonus drops to $121,000

@CNNMoneyInvest February 29, 2012: 1:44 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Lower profits and layoffs resulted in Wall Street bonuses falling by nearly $3 billion last year to their lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released the estimate Wednesday, saying that total bonuses dropped 14% to $19.9 billion, after two straight years of total bonuses topping $22 billion.

The average bonus fell nearly $18,000, or 13%, to $121,150. It is the second lowest average in the last eight years, topping only the $100,850 of 2008. This estimate tracks cash payments and doesn't include stock options or other forms of deferred compensation that haven't been realized.

The comptroller's report said the financial industry took in profits of $13.5 billion in 2011, less than half the $27.6 billion in 2010 industry earnings. The profit estimate is for the broker/dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms.

The state comptroller's office has tracked Wall Street bonuses and profits since 1985 because of their importance to New York state tax collections. In 2010, the securities industry in New York City accounted for 23.5% of all wages paid in the private sector, despite accounting for only 5.3% of all private-sector jobs

DiNapoli said the estimated drop in bonuses is consistent with the expectations in New York City's budget but is a smaller decrease than New York state predicted, meaning that revenues may be slightly higher than anticipated in the last quarter of the state's current fiscal year.

The major Wall Street firms had mixed results in 2011. Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) reported sharp drops in annual operating income, but banking giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) and Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) reported improved results.

The bankruptcy and closure of commodities trader MF Global and the layoffs announced at a number of firms, including Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), cut into the pool of workers receiving bonuses. DiNapoli estimated that the securities industry in New York City lost 4,300 jobs between April and December, taking employment in the sector to 166,200 by year's end. To top of page

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