Wall Street may have lost a lot of high-paying jobs following the economic crisis, but the New York region remains the place to be for bankers and financial executives seeking the big bucks.
Thanks in large part to the hefty bonuses doled out by investment banks, the average worker in the financial and insurance sectors in the New York metropolitan area earned $183,200 a year in 2010, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data compiled by American City Business Journals.
Financial sector compensation is even higher just outside the New York metro market, in the hedge fund hotbed of southwestern Connecticut. The average annual pay for financial employees in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., region is $238,400 — far and away tops in the U.S., according to ACBJ.
ACBJ operates local business journals in about 40 cities across the U.S., including Boston, San Francisco and Washington. It compiled its report using Census payroll data for 115 metropolitan markets that contain at least 10,000 private-sector businesses in all industries and then further narrowed its research to banks, brokerages, credit agencies, employee-benefit funds and insurers. All figures are from 2010, the last year in which full payroll results were available.
Aside from New York and southern Connecticut — which many would view as the same market — only two other metropolitan areas, San Francisco and Boston, had average salaries above $100,000. In the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., region, the average annual pay for financial workers was $126,500 and in greater Boston, which includes southern New Hampshire, it was $113,200.
In three regions — Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington — the average employee pay was between $90,000 and $100,000 and in five others — San Jose, Memphis, Hartford, Conn., Baltimore and Minneapolis/St. Paul — annual compensation ranged between $80,000 and $90,000.
(Charlotte, the home of Bank of America and where Wells Fargo has a major presence, ranked no. 14, with an average pay $79,600.)
In most markets, financial employees earned more in 2010 than they did in 2009. In the Stamford, Conn., area, for example, average compensation climbed more than 18% year over year, and in New York it rose almost 15%. San Francisco, Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Washington and Minneapolis all showed meaningful gains and in only one top 25 market, Miami, did average compensation decline year over year.
That's not to say the financial crisis hasn't taken a toll on the sector. In most major metropolitan markets, the number of people employed by banks, brokerages, insurers and other financial companies declined from the previous year. In New York, for example, the number of employees declined 3.2% between 2009 and 2010, to just under 562,000, and in Chicago, the total fell more than 8%, to about 230,000.