The US economy added a modest 155,000 net new jobs in December, the Labor Department said Friday, and the unemployment rate held steady at 7.8 percent.

The number of jobs created was slightly lower than November's 161,000, showing the economy still was generating enough fresh positions only to slowly pull down the jobless rate.

The rate has been hovering at 7.8 percent since September, and the total number of officially unemployed people was little changed at 12.2 million.