New York City employees are paid 17 percent less on average than people working in the private sector, according to a study released by the city's comptroller on Wednesday.

The city is the 11th largest employer in the United States, with more people on its payrolls than Hewlett-Packard, General Electric and Bank of America Corp, the report from Comptroller John Liu found.

The report noted the city's unique role as the capital of U.S. banking, with its high-paying jobs, and its effect on living costs. It said the top five banks paid their staffs a combined $119 billion for 2010, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc paid $431,000 on average.

"The financial sector and Wall Street are a very important part of our economic base, but the financial industry in New York City accounts for about 5 percent of employment," Liu told Reuters. "They also are part of the cost of living structure in the city. The cost of living structure in New York City, as it would be in other places, is tied in with how much people make."

The report said city accountants and auditors make slightly more than $50,000 a year, half of what their private-sector peers bring home.

While there are few jobs in the private sector that compare to the roles of police officers or firefighters, the report said the city's emergency responders earn roughly the same as male college graduates in the private sector.

Another study released on Wednesday focused on federal government workers' pay.

The conservative American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation think tanks said government workers' salaries are about 14 percent higher than those of similar private sector employees.

"The seemingly excessive compensation of public sector employees was a major political issue during the 2010 election campaign," the groups said, adding that "the new Congress is now considering reforming the federal pay system."