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New York City’s pay premium from 1990 to 2009

November 08, 2011

Average annual pay among employees in New York financial firms (the financial activities supersector, defined as the finance and insurance sector plus the real estate and rental and leasing sector) rose from $52,227 to $183,925 over the 1990–2009 period. Throughout the 1990–2009 period, the financial activities supersector was the single largest contributor to New York City's wage base. In 2009, this supersector alone accounted for 30 percent of the City's total wages. Employment in the financial activities supersector decreased from 507,241 to 426,660 over the period, a loss of 16 percent of its employment.

Employment and wages for employees in New York City, by selected industry, 1990 and 2009
[Chart data]

Employment in professional and business services in New York City grew from 474,743 to 550,036 over the 1990–2009 period. Average professional and business services supersector wages rose faster in New York City (from $40,665 to $91,489) than in the nation as a whole.

Education and health accounted for an increasing share of employment in New York City. Employment in education and health services grew from 457,465 to 701,754 from 1990 to 2009, as average annual wages increased from $26,332 to $47,843.

Unlike education and health services, the trade, transportation, and utilities supersector experienced a net loss in employment as its employment level declined 8 percent from 1990 to 2009; average annual wages increased from $30,010 to $48,005 over the same period.

Government employment (federal, state, and local combined) in New York City declined 7 percent over the period studied, compared to an employment growth rate of 2.3 percent for all industries combined.

New York City's pay premium—the percent by which people who work in the combined five counties of New York City were paid above the national average—rose substantially between 1990 and 2009. Employees in New York City earned an average of $34,381 in 1990, 46 percent above the national average, and $73,845 in 2009, 62 percent above the national average.

Although workers in New York City earn substantially more on average than workers in lower-cost areas, most of the rise in New York City's pay premium is attributable to growth in average pay in the financial activities industries.

Data for this article are from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program. To learn more, see "Pay premiums among major industry groups in New York City," by Lisa Boily, in the October 2011 issue of the Monthly Labor Review.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, New York City’s pay premium from 1990 to 2009 at (visited July 23, 2024).

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