AP FACT CHECK: US manufacturing better than Trump portrays

Markets Associated Press

A claim from the final presidential debate and how it stacks up with the facts:

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DONALD TRUMP: "We're not making things anymore, relatively speaking."

THE FACTS: Despite his "relatively speaking" hedge, this assertion about U.S. manufacturing is wrong. U.S. factory production has more than doubled since 1979, when manufacturing jobs were at their peak.

If there's a problem, it's that fewer people produce more. The United States has lost more than 7 million factory jobs, a drop of nearly 40 percent, since the 1979 jobs peak.

The value of factory production, minus the cost of raw materials and certain other expenses, reached $1.91 trillion last year, according to the Commerce Department, which uses 2009 dollars to adjust for inflation. That's a notch below the record set on the eve of the Great Recession in 2007. Factories have used robotics and computers to increase output even with fewer workers. The U.S. still produces plenty of autos, planes, steel and other metals, and large industrial machinery.

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Contributed by Associated Press writer Christopher S. Rugaber.