I had occasion to view a couple of Cass Trucking Index graphs, both for shipments (the physical volume) and for expenditures. Interestingly, the number of shipments in 2015 is almost dead flat compared to 1999.
Since US population has increased by over 15% during that time, from 279 Million to 322 Million today, I would have expected a similar rise in shipments.
Of course, 1999 was before the Bubble burst, while today we have anything but a robust Economy. Even so, with our political leaders trumpeting all the strides they have made to get the Economy back on the right track, dead even compared to 15% higher betrays an Economy that still is worse off than 16 years ago.
The Index for expenditures also holds enlightening information. During those same 16 years, the Dollar amount has just about doubled. 16 years to double shows (for freight costs) a compounded annual cost rise of a little short of 5%, which is far above the various government numbers for price inflation.
True this is only one category, but since most things we buy must be shipped by Truck, rises in this cost must show up in consumer prices. To me, this is further proof that we should use official, government released numbers at our own risk.