The news agency said some workers may be notified as soon as this week, and the cuts will include sales staff as well as traders in the bank's fixed-income and equity divisions.
Merrill Lynch Chief Executive John Thain said in a television interview with the news service earlier in the day that the bank needs to cut thousands of jobs because he expects a global recession next year.
Earlier this month, Bank of America said Thain will head investment banking, securities and wealth management when the two banks combine. That is now expected to be by the end of this year.
Representatives of Merrill Lynch did not immediately return calls seeking comment.