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Hot Jobs on the Bottom Rung

Wall Street is starting to hang out "Hiring" signs again after two dismal years that squeezed 39,000 jobs out of the securities industry. Stocks have rallied, and retail investors are finally coming back. The Securities Industry Assn. expects industry earnings to double this year, hitting $15 billion.

But the job rebound isn't across the board. Firms "are hiring selectively," says compensation consultant Alan Johnson, of Johnson Associates. The cheaper the hire, the better. Fresh college grads are in demand to do grunt work for bankers and analysts. Some banks are bulking up in growth segments, such as Citigroup's job additions in its retail arm.

The new hires could put firms in a better position to grab business. Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns traditionally strong in bonds, have added equity staff. "They should be poised to take advantage of any increase in activity," says Anton Schutz, manager of Burnham Financial Services Fund.

If they do it right, the nimble hirers could see a rise in market share and stock price.

Note: This story originally appeared in the October 6, 2003, issue of BusinessWeek. By Brian Hindo and Emily Thornton in New York

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