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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Sunday Replay

During his first appearance on CBS’ "Face the Nation" on April 18, Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts claimed that the financial regulatory bill could potentially cost insurance companies in his state 25,000 to 35,000 jobs. But the freshman senator has failed to provide any support for the claim, and we have been unable to find any elsewhere.

Brown didn’t provide the source of the estimate when host Bob Schieffer inquired about it. And our calls to the senator’s office haven’t been returned. The Boston Globe reports that Brown claims the figure came from recent discussions he’s had with "industry leaders." But representatives in Brown’s Senate office told the Globe that he got the figure from the chief executive of MassMutual, an insurance company based in Springfield, Mass., who didn’t actually offer exact numbers:

Boston Globe, April 20: Brown said yesterday that his weekend prediction on national TV Sunday that tightening Wall Street rules would kill 25,000 to 35,000 jobs in Massachusetts was “based on my speaking with industry leaders’’ in recent weeks, but he did not cite any specific analysis.

That varied from an explanation offered by his representatives on Sunday, when his office said Brown was given the estimate by the chief executive of MassMutual, a large insurance company headquartered in Springfield.

MassMutual officials said Sunday, and again yesterday, that they did not give Brown any firm estimates of projected job losses in the Bay State.

Officials for the insurance company said they told Brown that the state’s financial sector had lost about 33,000 jobs since the recession began, and that Brown may have taken his figure from that. And Kenneth Cohen, senior vice president and deputy general counsel at MassMutual, said they had mentioned that future losses, as a result of the bill, could be in a "similar range of magnitude."

But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 222,300 employees in the state’s financial activities sector when the recession began in December 2007, while there were roughly 207,000 employees in that sector at the end of March 2010. That’s a loss of nearly 15,300 jobs — less than half of what insurance officials said they had told Brown. MassMutual officials acknowledged that they had overcounted the number of jobs lost in the financial sector, according to the Globe, but Brown said that he stands by what he said on the talk show.

It’s still not clear how, or if, the number of jobs lost since the recession began correlates to the number of jobs that could be affected by the bill to more tightly regulate the financial services industry. We have seen no jobs figures linked to the legislation by any independent source. The Globe quoted Peter Morici, a professor at the University of Maryland and former director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission, saying, "I don’t see [the bill] either creating or destroying very many jobs, certainly not in numbers that are quantifiable."

We’ll have more on claims about the financial regulatory bill tomorrow.