WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama called on Wednesday for bipartisan cooperation to boost jobs and help small businesses through a series of initiatives that he has proposed to tackle double-digit unemployment.

My hope is that as we move forward, we can do so together, Obama told reporters after meeting congressional leaders from both his Democratic Party and the Republican opposition at the White House to discuss the economy and jobs.

The gathering came one day after Obama laid out a series of initiatives to boost job creation and called for the extension of unemployment insurance to ease the plight of the more than 15 million Americans who are out of work.

Critics said the plans were modest in scope, reflecting his need to also focus on the deficit, while sending a message that he understands the concerns of ordinary Americans.

Unemployment levels of 10 percent, the highest in 26 years, are sapping American optimism and have contributed to a decline in Obama's public approval ratings, potentially dimming Democrats' prospects in November congressional elections.

Obama's proposals will be shaped in conjunction with Congress, where the Democrats are in the majority, and he emphasized that the effort will require work and cooperation and a serious of purpose in Washington.

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Alister Bull; editing by Mohammad Zargham)