Wall Street cash bonuses seen higher in 2012: NY state comptroller

Wall Street cash bonuses are forecast to have risen in 2012 to their highest since 2010, but are still below pre-crisis levels, New York state's comptroller said on Tuesday.

The securities industry's bonus pool was expected to total $20 billion, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said at a press conference on Tuesday, up 8 percent from 2011 but below levels seen in 2006 and 2007, before the financial crisis.

DiNapoli said part of the 2012 bonus figure will also contain bonuses that are deferred for future years and does not wholly reflect cash that has been paid out already.

The average cash bonus rose an estimated 9 percent to almost $121,900 in 2012, the comptroller said. The average bonus rose more than the overall pool because the pool was shared among fewer workers than in 2011.

DiNapoli said he expects Wall Street to continue to cut jobs in 2013. Employment totaled 169,700 in December 2012, 1,000 less than the year before, according to the report. The securities industry in New York has regained only about 30 percent of the jobs lost since the crisis.

A healthy Wall Street is an important source of tax revenue for New York's economy.

"It's no secret that when Wall Street is strong all New Yorkers benefit," DiNapoli said.

In 2012, about 14 percent of New York State tax revenue came from Wall Street, down from 20 percent before the financial crisis, while the industry's contribution to New York City's tax take fell from a peak of more than 12 percent to less than 7 percent.

Profits for the broker-dealer operations of New York Stock Exchange member firms was $23.9 billion in 2012, three times the $7.7 billion earned in 2011, and is one of the most profitable years on record, the report said.

The comptroller's estimate is based on personal income tax trends. It reflects cash bonuses and deferred pay for which taxes have been withheld. The estimate does not include stock options or other forms of deferred compensation.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by James Dalgleish and Maureen Bavdek)