NEW YORK It still pays to be on Wall Street.
In a report released Tuesday, the New York state Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, said that the average pay package of securities industry employees grew slightly last year and was up 16.6 percent over the past two years, to $362,950. Wall Streets total compensation rose 4 percent last year to more than $60 billion.
That tally is the third highest in Wall Street history, trailing only the total amounts in the years 2007 and 2008, when the financial crisis was gathering force. The results are sure to raise eyebrows on Main Street and in Washington, where lavish pay packages have come under attack since the crisis.
But the report provides only a limited snapshot into Wall Streets finances. The wage data, which largely covers 2011, is somewhat outdated and other jobs figures in the report do not account for the remaining months of 2012. Nearly half of all revenue on Wall Street is earmarked for compensation, and employees typically learn the size of their bonus at the end of the year.
Expectations for this year appear to be high, according to another study out today on pay. Nearly half, 48 percent, of 911 Wall Street employees surveyed by eFinancialCareers.com said they felt their bonuses this year will be higher than in 2011. This is a marked rise from 2011, when 41 percent of survey respondents believed their annual bonus would increase.
The comptrollers annual report also depicted a cloudy outlook for the broader industry and its thousands of employees. In the face of new regulation and a lethargic economic recovery, the report notes, Wall Street has undergone a series of layoffs and lagging returns.
The securities industry remains in transition and volatility in profits and employment show that we have not yet reached the new normal, DiNapoli said in a statement.
After posting a disappointing $7.7 billion in earnings last year, Wall Street in the first half of 2012 earned $10.5 billion, he said. The industry is on pace to earn more than $15 billion by the end of the year.
But even with signs of improvement, Wall Street is rapidly shedding jobs. The austerity efforts have claimed 1,200 positions so far this year, according to the report.