Wall Street bonuses jump 17 percent to average of $184,220 in 2017

The big rise in stock prices in 2017 boosted the average bonus paid to Wall Street workers that live in New York City to $184,220, up 17 percent from a year earlier, according to an estimate released today by the New York State Comptroller.

It was the second straight year workers in New York's financial services industry saw their bonuses jump by more than 15 percent. The overall 2017 bonus pool surged to $31.4 billion, vs. $26.9 billion in 2016.

The Dow Jones industrial average rallied 25 percent last year as the 9-year-old bull market in stocks rolled on. Industry profits jumped to their highest level in seven years.

Wall Street bonus pay dwarfs that of the average American worker. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for workers in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $44,564 per year.

Profits on Wall Street are crucial to the health of the New York city and state economies.

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"When Wall Street does well, the city and state benefit from higher tax revenues,” New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a statement. “The large increase in profitability over the past two years demonstrates that the industry can prosper with the regulations and consumer protections adopted after the financial crisis. It is too soon to tell how increased volatility in the financial markets might impact profits in 2018.”

Powered by strong growth in wealth management fees, mergers and acquisitions advisory work, and underwriting and other income related to the securities business, the industry's overall profitability last year rose 4.5 percent to $153 billion, according to DiNapoli.

The sizable bonus gains came despite a slight dip in employment on Wall Street to 176,900 jobs.

Pre-tax profits for New York Stock Exchange member firms -- the traditional measure of securities industry profits -- jumped 42 percent to $24.5 billion, the highest level since 2010, according to the NY State Comptroller.

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