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The Line: Wall Street Paid $45 Billion in Bonuses Last Year

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

Gregory Heym is Chief Economist at Brown Harris Stevens. His weekly series, The Line, covers new developments to the economy, including trends and forecasts. Read on for the latest report and subscribe here to receive The Line in your inbox.

The Line: Wall Street

Nope, that’s not a misprint. Yes, that’s a record. Yes, that’s in cash. This figure was 21% higher than a year ago, and works out to an average of $257,500 per employee, which is also a record. Feeling envious yet? How much is $45 billion? How about just under half of New York City’s budget for the current fiscal year. It would also be enough money to buy every apartment currently for sale in Manhattan, and still have $18.6 billion left over. Here are some other amazing facts about Wall Street:

  • The securities industry accounts for one-fifth of private sector wages in NYC, even though it represents just 5% of employment.

  • They provide 18% of NYS tax revenues, and 7% of NYC revenues.

  • Including bonuses, the average Wall Street salary is $438,370, which is almost five times more than the rest of the private sector.

Two bits of not-so-great news in the report:

  • Employment in the securities industry was down slightly last year, and is 10% lower than its 2000 peak.

  • New York’s share of securities industry jobs has fallen from 33% in 1990, to 18% last year.

So, it’s a good time for you real estate brokers out there to reach out to your Wall Street contacts and remind them to diversify their investments by purchasing a beautiful New York City apartment.

Boring? I Don't Think So

Well Street bonuses 2021

A new study by the University of Essex in Colchester, England asked over 500 people which careers they consider the most boring. Without further ado, here it goes:

  1. Data analysis

  2. Accounting

  3. Tax/insurance work

  4. Cleaning

  5. Banking

Technically, data analysis is not the same as economics, but they certainly are very similar. Do I find my job boring? Absolutely not! I’ll leave it to you readers to weigh in on if I’m a boring person.

I think those who’ve never analyzed data for a living have the wrong impression of what it’s like. Taking complex data and distilling it into useful information is exciting, challenging, and sometimes a lot of fun. And I’m not just saying that because my bosses might be reading!

Every job has its boring moments, but do you know what’s never boring? The high pay that most of these "boring jobs" provide.

Since you’re probably still wondering, here are the jobs deemed the most exciting:

  1. Performing arts

  2. Science

  3. Journalism

  4. Health professional

  5. Teaching

How Low Will They Go?

Job claims march 2022

Weekly jobless claims recently fell to 187,000, their lowest level since 1969. If the Jets could win the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969, my life would be complete. Continuing claims for unemployment declined to 1.35 million, their lowest figure since January 1970. This is yet another indicator of how strong the labor market is, with an unemployment rate of just 3.8% and over 11 million available jobs. One week from today, we’ll get the employment report for March. Expect the strong hiring we’ve seen over the past few months to continue, along with rising wages.

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