It may not be as grim a Christmas for Wall Street's yuppie brokers as some people are making out.
The numbers being tossed about are frightening on their face as thousands of job cuts are announced by big-name financial houses. The most recent were announced just last week, when Manufacturers Hanover said it would dismiss as many as 2,500 people, or 8.5% of its work force, as part of a continuing retrenchment.
But times are hardly desperate on Wall Street, the Oct. 19 crash and future uncertainties notwithstanding. Indeed, one does not have to go back to the 1929 crash to find periods when the big brokerage and banking houses have sacked greater numbers and greater percentages of their work forces. This time, the worst that will happen to most Wall Streeters is that they will have to sell off the No. 2 Volvo or BMW to pay for the family's annual Christmas trek to some Caribbean resort.
As recently as 1973, just before the 1974-75 market shakeout, Wall Street employment totals hit a record 153,900. By the end of the shakeout, Wall Street had jobs for 139,000, a shrinkage of 14,900 people or 9.7% of the jobs in the financial district. Ever since the bull market took off on its rampage five years ago, Wall Street employment figures have kept pace with the Dow Jones industrial average--going to an unprecedented 451,000 as of the end of last August from 267,000 in 1981.