By Sinéad Carew and Saeed Azhar

- With mounting uncertainty around the U.S. economic outlook and the resulting slump in financial markets, Wall Street is easing up on hiring after a recruiting frenzy last year.

Wall Street companies including banks like Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) & Co were facing cutthroat hiring competition and being forced to pay more to recruit and retain talent in 2021 and early this year. Bonuses jumped to their highest level in 15 years.

However, recruitment consultants, executives and recent data show that hiring frenzy is diminishing.

"At the end of 2021 it was white hot with unprecedented demand for hiring and pay," said Alan Johnson, managing director at compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates. "It's quickly evolving from white hot to normal, and maybe by the end of this year getting cold. We're certainly in a transition."

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that while employers in the securities, commodity contracts, investments, funds and trusts category were still hiring, the pace slowed sharply in May with 1,200 jobs added that month compared with the 4,600 in April. This compares with a 3,400 monthly average for 2021, when the sector saw its biggest annual headcount expansion since 2000.

Alberto Mirabal, senior vice president for investment banking at recruitment firm GQR Global Markets, said some clients have pressed pause on some talent searches while they wait to "see how things shake out" before expanding their already large teams amid slumping global markets.

"We're seeing a bit of a slowdown," he said.

Soaring inflation exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and resulting interest rate hikes are making some Wall Street companies nervous about the risk of a recession.

Some pockets of the financial industry are already seeing layoffs, most notably the mortgage segment,...

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