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The private sector added 103,000 new jobs in December and the unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent to 9.4 percent.

“Now, we know that these numbers can bounce around from month to month. But the trend is clear,” said the president, whose 2012 re-election prospects may well hinge on the condition of the economy.

“We saw 12 straight months of private sector job growth — the first time that’s been true since 2006,” he said. The economy added 1.3 million jobs last year. And each quarter was stronger than the last, which means the pace of hiring is picking up, he said.

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