10/22/2013 03:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This 1 Chart Makes Gordon Gekko Look Like An Average Joe

Roughly a quarter of a century ago, Oliver Stone directed “Wall Street,” a movie about the greed and excess of a rapidly rising and increasingly powerful industry.

In retrospect, so cute! Because since 1987, when the movie was released, average pay in the New York City securities industry has skyrocketed to truly breathtaking levels. And no, it does not appear trickle-down economics did its part in pulling up the surrounding community, according to newly-released data out of the state comptroller’s office:

wall street salaries

The above chart specifically juxtaposes average salaries in the securities industry with all other private sector jobs in New York City. (Wonky note: These wages are not adjusted for inflation.)

If charts aren’t your thing, here are more specific stats to consider. In 1987 -- unsure why this post has become focused on a Charlie Sheen flick, but here we are -- our typical Wall Street character brought home some $69,550, which was easily more than double the $26,750 of the typical non-Wall Street employee in New York City.


That is, until you consider 2012, by which time those two numbers had jumped to $360,700 and $69,200, respectively. Needless to say, that is a much larger divide by many times over.

Here’s the year-by-year data for the truly obsessive among you:

year by year

And now, presented without comment, a quote from Gordon Gekko:

"The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It's bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it. You've got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I've still got a lot to teach you."



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