Employment in the US securities industry has broken through the 800,000 mark for the first time in four years, with further job gains expected in the coming months.
The growth is being driven by banks keen to take advantage of bullish commodities markets, particularly in the energy sector, and expand their fixed-income and derivatives divisions.
By the end of last year, US securities industry employment had reached 804,000, up from 781,000 at the end of 2004, according to preliminary figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The level of industry employment is the highest since December 2001. Almost 4,700 jobs were added last December.
New York city, home to many of the largest investment banks and asset managers, displayed the highest annual workforce growth rate at 5%, adding 8,100 positions. New York state accounts for almost a quarter of the US securities workforce.
Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of UK group Barclays, plans to boost its commodities division by almost 26%, hiring up to 40 staff, with a large proportion in the US, according to Benoit de Vitry, head of commodities.
Since returning to Morgan Stanley in June, chief executive John Mack has been boosting leveraged finance, one of several businesses he has said he wants to expand.
Deutsche Bank has been hiring in its US businesses, particularly equity derivatives, and other firms have established teams to take advantage of opportunities in commodities.
Bear Stearns said it would start trading precious metals and Cantor Fitzgerald, Merrill Lynch and UBS have been adding to their energy trading desks.
Goldman Sachs last year spent $11.69bn (€9.8bn) on compensation and benefits, up 21% from a year earlier. David Viniar, chief financial officer, said staff numbers increased by 8% last year and he expected the same level of growth this year.