$20,000 in 1891 → $520,916.48 in 2015

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U.S. Inflation Rate, $20,000 in 1891 to 2015

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, prices in 2015 are 2,504.58% higher than prices in 1891. The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.66% per year during this period.

In other words, $20,000 in 1891 is equivalent in purchasing power to $520,916.48 in 2015, a difference of $500,916.48 over 124 years.

The 1891 inflation rate was 0.00%. The inflation rate in 2015 was 0.12%. The 2015 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 2.12% per year between 2015 and 2018.


Inflation from 1891 to 2015
Cumulative price change 2,504.58%
Average inflation rate 2.66%
Converted amount ($20,000 base) $520,916.48
Price difference ($20,000 base) $500,916.48
CPI in 1891 9.100
CPI in 2015 237.017
Inflation in 1891 0.00%
Inflation in 2015 0.12%


U.S. inflation chart since 1665


Buying power of $20,000 since 1891

This chart shows calculations of buying power equivalence over time for $20,000 in 1891 (price index tracking began in 1635).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Year USD Value Inflation Rate
1891 $20,000.00 -
1892 $20,000.00 0.00%
1893 $19,780.22 -1.10%
1894 $18,901.10 -4.44%
1895 $18,461.54 -2.33%
1896 $18,461.54 0.00%
1897 $18,241.76 -1.19%
1898 $18,241.76 0.00%
1899 $18,241.76 0.00%
1900 $18,461.54 1.20%
1901 $18,681.32 1.19%
1902 $18,901.10 1.18%
1903 $19,340.66 2.33%
1904 $19,560.44 1.14%
1905 $19,340.66 -1.12%
1906 $19,780.22 2.27%
1907 $20,659.34 4.44%
1908 $20,219.78 -2.13%
1909 $20,000.00 -1.09%
1910 $20,879.12 4.40%
1911 $20,879.12 0.00%
1912 $21,318.68 2.11%
1913 $21,758.24 2.06%
1914 $21,978.02 1.01%
1915 $22,197.80 1.00%
1916 $23,956.04 7.92%
1917 $28,131.87 17.43%
1918 $33,186.81 17.97%
1919 $38,021.98 14.57%
1920 $43,956.04 15.61%
1921 $39,340.66 -10.50%
1922 $36,923.08 -6.15%
1923 $37,582.42 1.79%
1924 $37,582.42 0.00%
1925 $38,461.54 2.34%
1926 $38,901.10 1.14%
1927 $38,241.76 -1.69%
1928 $37,582.42 -1.72%
1929 $37,582.42 0.00%
1930 $36,703.30 -2.34%
1931 $33,406.59 -8.98%
1932 $30,109.89 -9.87%
1933 $28,571.43 -5.11%
1934 $29,450.55 3.08%
1935 $30,109.89 2.24%
1936 $30,549.45 1.46%
1937 $31,648.35 3.60%
1938 $30,989.01 -2.08%
1939 $30,549.45 -1.42%
1940 $30,769.23 0.72%
1941 $32,307.69 5.00%
1942 $35,824.18 10.88%
1943 $38,021.98 6.13%
1944 $38,681.32 1.73%
1945 $39,560.44 2.27%
1946 $42,857.14 8.33%
1947 $49,010.99 14.36%
1948 $52,967.03 8.07%
1949 $52,307.69 -1.24%
1950 $52,967.03 1.26%
1951 $57,142.86 7.88%
1952 $58,241.76 1.92%
1953 $58,681.32 0.75%
1954 $59,120.88 0.75%
1955 $58,901.10 -0.37%
1956 $59,780.22 1.49%
1957 $61,758.24 3.31%
1958 $63,516.48 2.85%
1959 $63,956.04 0.69%
1960 $65,054.95 1.72%
1961 $65,714.29 1.01%
1962 $66,373.63 1.00%
1963 $67,252.75 1.32%
1964 $68,131.87 1.31%
1965 $69,230.77 1.61%
1966 $71,208.79 2.86%
1967 $73,406.59 3.09%
1968 $76,483.52 4.19%
1969 $80,659.34 5.46%
1970 $85,274.73 5.72%
1971 $89,010.99 4.38%
1972 $91,868.13 3.21%
1973 $97,582.42 6.22%
1974 $108,351.65 11.04%
1975 $118,241.76 9.13%
1976 $125,054.95 5.76%
1977 $133,186.81 6.50%
1978 $143,296.70 7.59%
1979 $159,560.44 11.35%
1980 $181,098.90 13.50%
1981 $199,780.22 10.32%
1982 $212,087.91 6.16%
1983 $218,901.10 3.21%
1984 $228,351.65 4.32%
1985 $236,483.52 3.56%
1986 $240,879.12 1.86%
1987 $249,670.33 3.65%
1988 $260,000.00 4.14%
1989 $272,527.47 4.82%
1990 $287,252.75 5.40%
1991 $299,340.66 4.21%
1992 $308,351.65 3.01%
1993 $317,582.42 2.99%
1994 $325,714.29 2.56%
1995 $334,945.05 2.83%
1996 $344,835.16 2.95%
1997 $352,747.25 2.29%
1998 $358,241.76 1.56%
1999 $366,153.85 2.21%
2000 $378,461.54 3.36%
2001 $389,230.77 2.85%
2002 $395,384.62 1.58%
2003 $404,395.60 2.28%
2004 $415,164.84 2.66%
2005 $429,230.77 3.39%
2006 $443,076.92 3.23%
2007 $455,696.70 2.85%
2008 $473,193.41 3.84%
2009 $471,509.89 -0.36%
2010 $479,243.96 1.64%
2011 $494,371.43 3.16%
2012 $504,602.20 2.07%
2013 $511,993.41 1.46%
2014 $520,298.90 1.62%
2015 $520,916.48 0.12%
2016 $527,487.91 1.26%
2017 $538,725.27 2.13%
2018 $554,810.99 2.99%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £20,000.00 in 1891 would be equivalent to £2,292,134.83 in 2015, an absolute change of £2,272,134.83 and a cumulative change of 11,360.67%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $500,916.48 and total percent change of 2,504.58%.


Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1891 and 2015.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.66% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $20,000 in 1891 → 2015
Food 3.20 4,884.96 996,991.12
Shelter 4.14 15,261.07 3,072,214.65
Energy 3.95 12,027.97 2,425,593.06
Apparel 2.11 1,238.93 267,785.25
New vehicles 1.17 322.39 84,477.34
Used cars and trucks 0.87 192.46 58,492.86
Transportation services 3.35 5,845.64 1,189,127.59
Medical care services 5.20 53,355.51 10,691,102.14
Medical care commodities 4.40 20,724.25 4,164,850.93

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1891. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $20,000, 1891 to 2015

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2015CPI in 1891
×
1891 USD value
=
2015 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 9.1 in the year 1891 and 237.017 in 2015:

237.0179.1
×
$20,000
=
$520,916.48

$20,000 in 1891 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $520,916.48 in 2015.

To get the total inflation rate for the 124 years between 1891 and 2015, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2015 - CPI in 1891CPI in 1891
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (124 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

237.017 - 9.19.1
×
100
=
2,505%

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 2.66% has a compounding effect between 1891 and 2015. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 2,504.58% over 124 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $20,000 in the S&P 500 index in 1891, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $1,471,509,329.57 in 2015. This is a return on investment of 7,357,446.65%, with an absolute return of $1,471,489,329.57.

These numbers are not inflation adjusted, so they are considered nominal. In order to evaluate the real return on our investment, we must calculate the return with inflation taken into account.

The compounding effect of inflation would account for 96.16% of returns ($1,414,993,158.83) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $20,000 investment is $56,496,170.73.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1891-2015
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $20,000 $1,471,509,329.57 7,357,446.65%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$20,000 $56,496,170.73 282,480.85%


News headlines from 1891

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

  • Thomas Edison's prototype of a kinetoscope had its first public display to members of the National Federation of Women's Club.
  • Eighteen students from Springfield, Massachusetts, played the first ever basketball game based on rules by James Naismith.
  • John Abbott is named Canada's Prime Minister.

Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1665 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “$20,000 in 1891 → 2015 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 13 Nov. 2018, https://www.officialdata.org/1891-dollars-in-2015?amount=20000.

in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.


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