Ask many of those on Wall Street, and they'll tell you of an industry grappling with a terrible state of affairs. But for those lucky enough to have kept their jobs, it appears last year wasn't all that bad after all.
For many, it was even good. Fifty-four percent of financial workers saw their salaries rise in 2011, according to a recent survey from the career site eFinancialCareers, as reported by Bloomberg. And 40 pecent said their salary didn't change one way or the other. Only a small percent said their salaries actually went down.
A few notes about that survey: eFinancialCareers gathered the salary information of 2,860 financial workers, according to Bloomberg, corralling responses from people at hedge funds, small boutique firms and major investment banks.
These are decidedly non-apocalyptic findings, and if you were paying attention to all the sturm und drang about Wall Street pay earlier this year, that might surprise you. Many hands were wrung this fall and winter over the prospect of plunging bonuses, since trading was down in the face of a shaky global economy, and people hated the big banks so much that they camped out and built libraries.
In the end, bonuses did drop by 25 percent, as estimated by the New York City Independent Budget Office. Yet that still didn't seem like much compared to the plunging profits, which fell by 51 percent on Wall Street.
Some onlookers say scaled-down bonuses will represent the rule, not the exception, going forward, though this isn't an opinion shared by everyone. Either way, though, Wall Street bankers are doing much better than virtually everyone else in the private sector (and the men of Wall Street are doing much better than the women).
The percentage of American workers reporting no change at all in their wages was higher in 2011 than any other time in the last 30 years, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The number of Americans in poverty reached an all-time high in the last Census, and away from the trading floor, many people are earning just enough to make it to the next paycheck.