BLS Puts Numbers to Wall Street Bonus Debate

April 28, 2010 ( – A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at the U.S. Department of Labor supplies hard numbers to a complaint many have leveled at Wall Street in recent months about its bonus payments.

The report, Supplemental Pay in the Finance and Insurance Industry, written by BLS economist John L. Bishow, found that bonuses represent about 6% of gross earnings for finance and insurance, compared to about 1% for all other service-providing industries.

Bishow examined the use of overtime, nonproduction bonuses, and shift differentials in the finance and insurance sector of the economy.

Other Bishow findings included:

  • Supplemental pay accounts for 6.9% of gross earnings in finance and insurance, compared to about 3.3% for the service-providing sector overall. “Relative to other industries, finance and insurance is among the industries that pay the highest percentages of gross earnings in the form of supplemental pay–on a par with utilities and wholesale trade, and clearly greater than industries such as educational services, accommodation and food services, and retail trade,” Bishow wrote.
  • Within sales and office occupations, the percent of gross earnings received as supplemental pay is higher for the finance and insurance industry than for all other service-providing industries – 5.5% for finance and insurance; 2.3% for all other service providers. The higher percent of gross earnings received as bonuses accounts for this difference: 4.8% in finance versus 1.3% for all other service providers
  • For securities, commodity contracts, funds, and trusts, 12.7 % of gross earnings is received as bonus pay.

The report is available at