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Obama to Hold Jobs Summit in December

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Thursday: Before departing for Asia, President Obama announced a jobs summit in December. (AP Photo)

President Obama took time Thursday -- before jetting off to Asia for a 10-day tour -- to announce a December jobs summit aimed at synching job growth with the massive government spending meant to "break the back" of the recession.

The announcement came as the Labor Department reported another 502,000 new jobless claims, two high-tech mainstays announced big layoffs and the unemployment rate reached 10.2 percent.

Obama said the White House forum will gather CEOs, small business owners, economists, financial experts and representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups "to talk about how we can work together to create jobs and get this economy moving again." 

"We all know that there are limits to what government can and should do, even during such difficult times. But we have an obligation to consider every additional, responsible step that we can take to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country," he said. 

He added that the forum is intended to prevent making "any ill-considered decisions -- even with the best intentions -- particularly at a time when our resources are so limited. But it's just as important that we are open to any demonstrably good idea to supplement the steps we've already taken to put America back to work."

Nearly 16 million people are unemployed, and the economy shed a net total of 190,000 jobs in October, triggering the 10.2 percent unemployment rate. Microsoft announced last week that it is dropping 800 jobs.

Obama last week signed a $24 billion economic stimulus bill that will extend unemployment benefits for up to 20 additional weeks -- an extension he said will help more than 1 million Americans.  

Despite claiming credit for cutting middle class taxes and creating or saving more than 1 million jobs through the $787 billion stimulus plan signed in February, Obama said, more is needed to "encourage and accelerate job creation"

"The economic growth that we've seen has not yet led to the job growth that we desperately need," Obama said.

"This is one of the great challenges that remains in our economy -- a challenge that my administration is determined to meet," he added.  

Next month's summit will be the 12th Obama has hosted or attended since assuming the presidency, not counting a July "beer summit" aimed to tamp down a racially tinged dispute between Harvard Professor Henry Gates and Cambridge, Mass., Police Sgt. James Crowley, who arrested Gates in his home after reports of a break-in.

At the White House, Obama held a fiscal responsibility summit in February, a health care summit in March and an Afghan-Pakistan summit in May. He has also attended G20 and G-8 meetings abroad as well as attended Russia, Mexico, NATO and Americas summits.

Because economic prosperity at home is tied to economies around the world, the president said he plans to talk about a strategy for growth with leaders while he is in Asia in the coming week.

"Prosperity around the world is no longer as dependent on American consumption and borrowing, but rather more on American innovation and products," he said.

Last week's dismal unemployment report showed that job losses remain widespread across many industries. Manufacturers eliminated a net total of 61,000 jobs, the most in four months. Construction shed 62,000 jobs, down slightly from the previous month.

Retailers, the financial sector and leisure and hospitality companies all continued to reduce payrolls. The economy has lost a net total of 7.3 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007.

The average work week was unchanged at 33 hours, a disappointment because employers are expected to add more hours for current workers before they begin hiring new ones.

Professional and business services companies, however, added 18,000 jobs. And temporary employment grew by 33,700 jobs, after losing positions for months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.