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AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Trump spoke a lot about America's manufacturing sector during an appearance today at a Boeing plant in South Carolina.

His message: U.S. manufacturing has been on the decline, but now it's coming back thanks to the Trump presidency. It's far too early to analyze the second half of Trump's message, but we do have data on the first half, and it's mixed:

Manufacturing jobs: The levels fell pretty drastically between 2000 and 2009, although they subsequently leveled off and even climbed a bit. The most recent unemployment rate in the manufacturing sector was 4.2%, which is lower than the overall unemployment rate of 4.9%. For context, manufacturing unemployment spiked at 13% in January 2010, easily topping the broader figure of 9.8%.

Manufacturing output: U.S. manufacturing output (i.e., the number of things produced) hit an all-time high in Q4 2016, just beating out a previous high from Q1 2008. Also at a high is manufacturing output per worker hours, which has been on a steady rise, outside of a downward blip during the Great Recession.

Takeaway: America is making more than ever before, but needs fewer people to do it. It's a trend that is likely to accelerate, regardless of Trump's policies, as manufacturers employ more advanced automation technologies.

Go deeper

U.S. ambassador to Russia will return home briefly: State Department

John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during a briefing in Moscow in 2015. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department said Monday that the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, will now be returning to the United States this week before returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks."

Why this matters: The statement, from a State Department spokesperson, comes just hours after Axios reported that Sullivan had indicated he intended to stand his ground and stay in Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home to talk with his team.

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.

Read: Former Vice President Walter Mondale's last message

Photo courtesy of Mondale.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale wrote a farewell letter to his staff, sent upon his death on Monday, thanking them for years working together.

Dear Team,

Well my time has come. I am eager to rejoin Joan and Eleanor. Before I Go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side!

Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight.

Joe in the White House certainly helps.

I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!

My best to all of you!

Fritz