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Mass Layoffs, Jobless Claims Increase

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WASHINGTON (6/24/13)--U.S. mass layoffs rose in May and initial claims for unemployment benefits increased last week, with job growth still occurring--albeit at an uneven, diminished pace (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Moody's Economy.com June 20).

Mass layoffs involve 50 or more workers from the same company laid off around the same time, according to the Labor Department.

Last month, U.S. employers implemented 1,301 mass-layoff actions affecting 127,821 workers--up from 1,199 mass layoffs of 116, 849 workers in April.

Initial unemployment claims for the week ended June 15 increased 18,000--to a seasonally adjusted 354,000, the Labor Department said.

The four-week moving average of claims--which smooths out weekly volatility, went up 2,500 to 348,250.

In May, the unemployment rate inched up to 7.6%, from 7.5% in April, with more people trying to enter the work force, the Journal said.

That is noteworthy because the Federal Reserve uses a 6.5% unemployment rate as one of its benchmarks for changes in interest rates and its bond-buying monetary policy.

Big Banks Planning Large-scale Simulated Cyberattack

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MADISON, Wis. (6/24/13)--Quantum Dawn 2 is not a sequel to a summer blockbuster movie. It's a simulated cyberattack drill being conducted Friday by about 50 of the nation's largest banks to see how they well they can withstand an attack on the nation's financial system.

Planners of the attack--organized by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)--say it will mimic a coordinated, large-scale assault on the financial industry's online sites and information systems (AllthingsD.com June 17 and American Banker June 18). It will run most of the business day Friday, starting with seemingly random bursts of confusing information, followed by a pause for some executive decision making and then it will accelerate.

It will test participants' ability to coordinate internally and with one another, including decision-making with limited information in real time--and the resiliency of their processes.

Both publications said the simulation will involve major banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of New York Mellon and U.S. Bancorp, but the exercise is open to any size company, even if they are not members of SIFMA.  Participating companies are paying $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000, depending on their revenue, to cover the cost of the simulation.

Also participating will be the Department of Homeland Security, Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Quantum Dawn 1 in 2011 featured a scenario in which a group of "armed men ran around Manhattan trying to gain access to exchanges and attempting to blow up things." Participants in that exercise were in a single conference room comparing notes and making decisions. This time they will be working from theirr offices, said AllThingsD.com.

From September through May the nation's biggest banks--as well as several credit unions--were hit by cyberattacks in the forms of distributed denial of service that stalled their online sites so legitimate members and customers could not access their online banking accounts.