NEW YORK - Bank of America Corp. said yesterday 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 won't complete its job-cutting analysis until early next year. The company and Merrill have about 308,000 employees in total, and the cuts will affect workers from both companies.

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.

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.

The massive layoffs have raised questions about executive pay: With so many people losing their jobs, should the companies' executives still receive lucrative packages? CEOs at Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. have yet to reveal whether they will receive bonuses this year, but those at Merrill, Morgan Stanley and Goldman have announced that they will forgo them.

Some argue, though, that the shotgun deal between Bank of America and Merrill, valued at $50 billion when it was initially announced in September, may have saved jobs in the end. It was struck as the solvency of investment banks was in grave doubt, and kept Merrill from a complete meltdown like the one suffered by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which was forced to file for bankruptcy. *