Big Wall Street bonuses are heading back towards all-time highs after plummeting during the financial crisis, but household incomes are not.
The New York State Comptroller’s office recently released estimates for 2013 bonuses for securities industry employees in New York City. The report also includes data on Wall Street bonuses going back to 1985. We compared those bonuses to median household income, with both series adjusted for inflation:
There are a couple big things in this chart. Average Wall Street bonuses have exploded, reaching a height of nearly $US218,000 in 2006 — seven times larger than the average bonus of $US29,800 in 1985. After the 2008 crash, bonuses were halved, but in the last couple years they have started to recover.
This also shows the extreme volatility of Wall Street bonuses. The Comptroller’s Office data shows how one year, bonuses might fall 20% and then jump 50% the next year.
Meanwhile, real household income has not moved around nearly as much, staying in the neighbourhood of about $US50,000 to $US56,000 2012 dollars. Zeroing in on the recent data shows how dramatically households were hit in the crash, without any of the recovery seen on the street:
Household income fell from a post-crash peak of about $US55,600 to about $US51,000 in 2012 — an 8% drop — declining in each year from 2008 to 2012.
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