Wall Street companies hired an extra 4,900 workers from January 2011 to January 2012, the New York Department of Labor said on Thursday in revised data that countered expectations of job losses in the securities industry.
The gain was one of the most surprising findings in the annual revisions to New York City's unemployment data, according to James Brown, a market analyst with the Department of Labor.
Officials had feared Wall St. would lose jobs after profit-hit banks and brokerages announced thousands of layoffs.
The data did not indicate whether those layoffs never happened or whether banks simply hired more staff than they fired.
In January, Wall Street hired 600 workers, bringing its total workforce to 171,300 employees, according to the Labor Department.
This sector galvanizes the economies of New York City and New York state as it drives a host of other service companies to hire workers, from accounting firms to restaurants.
Nor was that the only unexpected finding. The benchmark revisions also increased the 2011 annual average employment in the city's private sector by 43,800 positions, a 1.4 percent increase.
It's a significantly stronger upward revision; all indications are that we are doing a lot better than we thought, said Labor Department Market Analyst James Brown by telephone.
Still, he noted the city's pre-recession unemployment rate hovered around 4 percent to 4.5 percent -- about half the latest rate -- which suggests the recovery is far from complete.
The overall financial sector, which includes banks and insurance, hired 7,800 people from January 2011 to January 2012, bringing its payroll to a total of 440,600.
New York City added private sector jobs at a rate almost 60 percent greater than the country as a whole in 2011, and over the last two years, New York City created more jobs than the next 10 largest cities combined, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
New York state's economy also performed better than first reported, according to the benchmark revisions. As of December 2011, the state had recouped 76 percent of the private sector jobs lost in the 2008-2009 recession, the Labor Department said in a statement.
Still, the state's unemployment rate rose a tenth of a percentage point to 8.3 percent in January from a year earlier. New York City's jobless rate rose fourth-tenths of a percentage point to 9.3 percent over the same time.
(Reporting By Joan Gralla; Editing by Andrew Hay)