Wall Street Job Cuts Won't Go as Deep as Feared

New York City's financial sector might only slice 15,000 to 25,000 jobs in the current downturn, which could prove shorter than the mayor has predicted, the city comptroller said on Thursday.


Henny Ray Abrams

n contrast, the financial sector that is such a vital part of the city's economy slashed 40,200 jobs in the previous 2000 to 2003 retreat that straddled the September 11, 2001 air attacks, Comptroller William Thompson said in his report.

Battered by profit-gouging subprime mortgage loans, New York Stock Exchange member firms that do business with the public lost $7.3 billion last year, and the current job-losing cycle that began in August 2007 should run through March 2009, the Democrat added.

Though banks and brokerages employ less than 10 percent of the city's workforce, they earn more than 30 percent of all wages and salaries, he said. And each Wall Streeter helps create 1.5 jobs in other sectors, from restaurants to shops.

The latest job-loss estimates were milder than several others. For example, Wall Street could shed one in five jobs if this cycle in an industry known for its volatility mirrors previous ones, according to a state labor department analyst. That works out to 36,000 of lay-offs.

Similarly, the city's Independent Budget Office, predicted 33,300 job cuts.

If the comptroller's new forecasts prove accurate, the city's overall economy will still gain a few jobs this year, with employers hiring 3,800 workers. In contrast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has predicted a loss of 10,700 jobs.

Both politicians, however, see the city of over 8 million people losing lots of jobs in 2009. Some 49,800 people will lost their jobs, according to the comptroller, topping the independent mayor's prediction of 46,300 cuts.

By 2010, Thompson and Bloomberg also agree that employers will resume hiring, with the comptroller predicting an increase of 29,800 jobs and the mayor forecasting 26,700 additions.