U.S. consumer confidence rose in December as consumers grew more optimistic about the job market, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes rose to 78.1 from an upwardly revised 72.0 in November. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a reading of 76.0.

The jump puts the index near levels last seen before an autumn government shutdown that unnerved consumers.

"Despite the many challenges throughout 2013, consumers are in better spirits today than when the year began," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement.

The expectations index rose to 79.4 from an upwardly revised 71.1 while the present situation index rose to 76.2, the highest since April 2008, from a revised 73.5 in November.

Consumers' labor market assessment improved, with the "jobs hard to get" index dropping to 32.5 from 34.1 the month before. Consumers' one-year inflation expectation was steady at 5.2 percent.

(Reporting By Steven C. Johnson; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)