Bank of America Corp. said Thursday it expects to cut 30,000 to 35,000 jobs over the next three years, as it faces a deteriorating economic environment and tries to absorb Merrill Lynch & Co.
The final number could be even higher, analysts say. Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America said it hasn’t yet completed its analysis for eliminating positions, and won’t until early next year. The company and Merrill have about 308,000 employees in total, and the cuts will affect workers from both companies and all types of businesses.
Bank of America is considered one of the country’s healthier banks, and its decision to slash so many jobs illustrates the breadth of the layoffs hitting the United States. The nation lost more than half a million jobs in November alone, and economists expect many more to come.
Bank of America’s action is a particularly hard blow for Charlotte — which is also home to the beleaguered Wachovia Corp., a once strong bank that is now being acquired by Wells Fargo & Co. in what amounts to a fire sale. Just three months ago, when the Merrill Lynch deal was announced, Charlotte was dubbed Wall Street South; now, the banking center is being hit as hard as Wall Street and other towns across America, where people go to work in the morning unsure if they will still have a job that night.
Thursday’s announcement of job cuts at Bank of America was hardly unexpected, considering the merger and the wave of job losses seen in the banking industry and in other sectors over the past few months. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch have already eliminated thousands of investment banking jobs over the past year, as have other banks, in an effort to lower costs as they face increasing defaults in mortgages, credit card debt and other loans.
With no end in sight yet to the economy’s troubles, Bank of America might have to slash even more jobs as loan losses mount, said Alois Pirker, a senior analyst at Boston-based research firm Aite Group. If the company’s earnings worsen from this year to next, “I think that might lead to more reductions.”
Other big banks — which have all received loans from the government’s bailout fund — have been cutting jobs as well.
New York-based Citigroup Inc. has been slashing jobs the most. By next year, Citigroup expects to have shrunk its work force by 75,000, or 20 percent, since its headcount peaked in late 2007.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is shedding about 7,000 employees, or 10 percent, of its investment bank staff, and cutting 9,200 jobs at Washington Mutual Inc., the bank it acquired in September. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, meanwhile, are reducing their staffs by about 10 percent.
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