U.S. employers last month created 155,000 nonfarm jobs, leaving the nation's unemployment rate at 7.8 percent as the economy continued its slow recovery.

Analysts expected nonfarm payrolls to show a gain of 150,000, compared with the 146,000 jobs created in November. Projections provided by the 55 economists polled by Thomson Reuters ranged from a gain of 80,000 jobs to a gain of 225,000. Other economist surveys pointed to expectations of a 160,000 gain.

Employment rose in health care, food services and drinking places, construction, and manufacturing.