US President George W Bush has hailed an improvement in employment figures in August as evidence that his economic policies are working.
Bush had been neck-and-neck with his main opponent
Mr Bush made his comments during a campaign swing through three key states - Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio.
But his Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry, said the latest job figures fell far short of what was needed.
Meanwhile, a new opinion poll has given Mr Bush his biggest lead for several months over Mr Kerry.
The Time magazine poll, taken during this week's Republican convention, gives Mr Bush an 11% advantage, as both sides resume their campaigning schedules.
Part of the Bush advantage could be explained by the intense media focus on the convention, says the BBC's Jill McGivering in Washington.
In the poll, President Bush scored best on issues at the heart of the Republican campaign - questions of strong leadership and his handling of what he calls the war on terror.
That may concern Democrats, wondering if the Republican formula is starting to work, our correspondent says.
However, analysts caution that individual polls can be misleading and it is too soon to know how long this post-convention boost will last.
The latest figures from the US Labor Department show that 144,000 new jobs were created in August, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.4%.
Nearly 60,000 more jobs were created in June and July than previously estimated.
Campaigning in Ohio on Friday, Mr Kerry said the figures were slightly less than had been predicted by economists and were evidence of Mr Bush's failure to create jobs.