WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, facing a 10.2 percent U.S. unemployment rate, will announce on Thursday plans for a jobs summit in December, an administration official said.

Obama will make the announcement at the White House before departing on a weeklong Asia trip.

The U.S. economy began growing again in the third quarter but unemployment has continued to climb, battered by the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Unemployment jumped to a 26-1/2 year high in October and the White House has warned that it could get a little worse before it starts getting better.

However, weekly jobless claims released earlier on Thursday showed applications for benefits falling to a lower than expected 502,000 in the week ended November 7, from 514,000 the previous week. In addition, the closely watched four week moving average edged down to 519,750. This was the lowest reading since November 2008.

(Reporting by Ross Colvin and Alister Bull, editing by Vicki Allen)