Business

Wall Street bonuses continue to skyrocket

$138,210 average exceeds total income of 85 percent of US households

(FILES) This file photo taken on February 16, 2017 a street sign near the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Wall Street stocks rose modestly early on March 8, 2017 after data showed much stronger US private-sector hiring in February. Private payrolls increased an eye-popping 298,000 in the month, the biggest increase in nearly six years and beating the consensus forecast for a 180,000 rise, according to payroll services firm ADP.The data come two days before the official US government employment report for February, which analysts expect will show a gain of 188,000 jobs. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. SmithBRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images
BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images

You probably make less each year than Wall Street bankers get in their bonus checks alone.

Wall Street bankers took home an average of $138,210 in bonus pay in 2016.

That was more than 85 percent of US households took home in total income during 2015, according to the most recent year of data available from the US Census Bureau.

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Another way to look at it: The average total household income in 2015 was $79,263, or about 57 percent of the average Wall Street bonus.

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And keep in mind that those Census figures are incomes for entire households, while the number for bankers is for individuals.

Altogether, the major banks set aside $23.9 billion for bonuses in 2016, the Associated Press reported, citing data from the New York State Comptroller’s Office.

That was a 2 percent increase from a year earlier, though the bonuses remain well below the levels they were in their heydays before the financial crisis, when the average bonus reached as high as $191,360 in 2006.

While most Wall Street bankers make a salary, the vast majority of their compensation comes in the form of annual bonuses which reflect how the firm did that year, plus the worker’s contribution.

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Some bonuses can be as small as a few thousand dollars for low-level support staff, while high-profile traders and investment bankers can bring in bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars.

Roughly 177,000 people were employed by Wall Street securities and brokerage firms in 2016, according to the comptroller’s office, the highest level since 2008.

Industrywide profits in New York State were $17.3 billion, the highest for the industry in New York State since 2012.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele