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Average Wall Street salary dropped to $399,000 last year

This year likely won't be any better, with the slowdown in the global economy already expected to hit Wall Street profits.
Image: New York Stock Exchange
The statue of George Washington is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Oct. 11, 2019 at Wall Street in New York City.Johannes Eisele / AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Smaller bonuses last year contributed to a 5.6 percent drop in average Wall Street salaries, according to a report released Friday by New York state's comptroller.

The average 2018 salary, including bonuses, for New York City's securities industry employees was $398,600. That was down from $422,500 in 2017, which was the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

The salary drop tracks with a 17 percent decline in bonuses, which can account for more than one-third of Wall Street wages. The report gives two reasons for scaled-back bonuses last year: changes in federal law that boosted the bonus pool in 2017 and financial market weakness at the tail end of 2018.

The report said pretax profits in the securities industry reached $15.1 billion in the first six months of 2019. That's an 11 percent increase over the same period last year and the best start in a decade. But New York state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said a slowdown in the global economy and other factors pose threats to Wall Street profits in the second half of 2019.

"Volatile markets, global trade tensions, and political turbulence have sown economic anxiety and slowed global economic growth," DiNapoli said in a release.

While Britain's departure from the European Union could have a negative effect on the global economy, it could create opportunities for financial firms located in New York City, the report said.

DiNapoli noted that securities industry employment in New York City has increased in four of the past five years. But with 7,600 fewer jobs, it remains 4 percent smaller than it was in 2007.