Wall Street Pay Surged to Records in '05

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Wall Street's payroll hit $49 billion in 2005, with bonuses reaching record levels and the average salary increasing 28 percent from 2003, to a record of nearly $290,000. Some see more records for 2006.

The figures were reported by New York's Office of the State Comptroller.

Despite some hiccups in the overall economy, observers expect 2006 to be a banner year as well. Alan Roost, vice president at the compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates, told the New York Post that the securities industry's business operations continue "to exceed expectations." Johnson himself told Bloomberg that bonuses could increase 15 percent in 2006, with investment bankers and traders gaining the most.

InvestmentNews noted the industry created 9,500 new jobs in New York City between 2003 and 2005, representing a third of those lost between 2000 and 2003.

As good as this year's performance may be, the Street's profits are expected to drop next year as the economy slows down and competition heats up. In September, the Securities Industry Association estimated that the earnings of U.S. securities firms will drop 23 percent in 2007.