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Wall Street bonuses take a hit as profits fall

Pedestrians pass in front of the exterior of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.
Scott Eells | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians pass in front of the exterior of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.

Wall Street bonuses fell in 2015 along with the industry's profits.

Bonuses dropped 9 percent for the year as total industry profitability declined 10.5 percent, according to a report from New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

On average, Wall Street employees took home bonuses last year of $146,200, down from 2014's average payout of $160,280. The decline reflected the difficult market conditions of 2015, when industry profits slipped by $1.7 billion, according to the report.

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"Wall Street bonuses and profits fell in 2015, reflecting a challenging year in the financial markets," DiNapoli said. "While the cost of legal settlements appears to be easing, ongoing weaknesses in the global economy and market volatility may dampen profits in 2016. Both the state and city budgets depend heavily on the securities industry and lower profits could mean fewer industry jobs and less tax revenue."

While bonuses fell, employment on Wall Street rose for the second year in a row, as companies tacked on an additional 4,500 jobs to bring the total to 172,4000 in the New York City area. It was the biggest jump since the financial crisis.

Still, industry employment is 8 percent below levels before the financial crisis. Given the weakness in the global economy, the comptroller's office questioned whether these job gains can be sustained.

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The health of the securities industry is important to New York City, accounting for 22 percent of all private sector wages in the city, though it's less than 5 percent of its private-sector jobs.

The report is based on personal income tax trends and does not include bonuses paid to employees who do not live in New York City.