U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was campaigning in the battleground state of Pennsylvania Friday as news that President Barack Obama had presided over net job growth derailed one of the Republican candidate's key talking points.
The former Massachusetts governor has repeatedly criticized Obama's handling of the economy, claiming the nation has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs since the president took office. But revised figures Friday from the Labor Department mean Romney can no longer make that argument.
While nearly 13 million workers are unemployed in the country, the new numbers indicate U.S. employers added almost 400,000 more jobs during the 12 months ending in March than previously estimated.
That means the overall number of jobs in the U.S. labor market is now 125,000 higher than in January 2009 when President Obama came into office, and that the jobs created under Obama offset those lost during his term.
For Romney, the news comes after an already tough couple of weeks for his campaign. The Republican candidate's standing has fallen since a video surfaced earlier this month showing him telling wealthy supporters that 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes and consider themselves "victims" entitled to government support.
Recent polls show President Obama with a significant lead over his Republican challenger in Pennsylvania and many of the other so-called swing states expected to decide the November 6 election.
The assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute says the presidential debates, which start next week, may be Romney's best chance to reverse the trend in his favor.
The Republican candidate will spend time this weekend preparing for the first of the three debates - scheduled to take place next Wednesday in Denver, the capital of the western state of Colorado. Romney is also holding a fundraiser in Boston, the capital of his home state of Massachusetts.
President Obama, meanwhile, will also focus on raising money Friday with his own fundraising events in Washington, D.C. and will begin debate practice sessions in Nevada on Sunday.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.