Wall Street's average bonus last year: $146,200.
That's not as healthy as it might look. The figure is 9% lower than the 2014 average, marking the second straight yearly decline, according to data from the New York State Comptroller's Office.
The shrinking bonuses reflects an 11% drop in pre-tax profits for broker-dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms, the traditional gauge of securities industry profitability, Thomas DiNapoli, the comptroller, said in a statement on Monday. Total pre-tax earnings were $14.3 billion.
The prospects for a rebound this year are slim, with sliding oil prices and slowing economic growth in China roiling markets worldwide and prompting speculation that the U.S. may fall into a recession. Those trends exacerbate the challenges to bank earnings following the 2008 financial crisis, including tougher regulations designed to prevent a recurrence and a slew of lawsuits.
While the cost of legal settlements appears to be easing, "ongoing weaknesses in the global economy and market volatility may dampen profits in 2016," DiNapoli said. "Both the state and city budgets depend heavily on the securities industry and lower profits could mean fewer industry jobs and less tax revenue."
Although the securities industry has shrunk since the financial crisis, it remains one of New York City's most powerful economic drivers, the comptroller's office said, accounting for 22% of all private-sector wages even though it represents just 5% of such jobs.
Unlike recoveries from previous recessions, the securities industry hasn't propelled a rebound from the slump that ended in mid-2009, the office said. So far, it has accounted for less than 1% of new private-sector jobs, compared with 10% in the two previous cycles, DiNapoli said.