Wall Street paid out $20.3 billion of bonuses in 2009, up 17 percent from a year earlier, New York State's comptroller said, as the financial industry recovered fitfully from a near meltdown.

Speaking on CNBC television, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said profit for all of Wall Street could top $55 billion for 2009, when the economy began to stabilize and as lenders raced to repay federal bailout money they had come to view as a stigma.

Average taxable bonuses on Wall Street rose to $123,850 in 2009, he said. Compensation at Goldman Sachs Group Inc , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley , three of New York's biggest banks, rose 31 percent, DiNapoli said.

The comptroller's annual report on Wall Street pay is closely watched not only by Wall Street but also by politicians eager to rein in runaway pay in a still-weakened economy where unemployment remains high and tax revenue remains depressed.

While bonuses are well below the level set in 2007 and are now more closely tied to company performance, DiNapoli acknowledged that many might consider them outsized given the lingering problems in the economy.

It's still a bitter pill for many people, he said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)