$1 in 1935 → $1.03 in 1938

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$1 in 1935 → $1.03 in 1938

U.S. Inflation Rate, $1 in 1935 to 1938

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, prices in 1938 are 2.92% higher than average prices throughout 1935. The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 0.96% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $1 in 1935 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1.03 in 1938, a difference of $0.03 over 3 years.

The 1935 inflation rate was 2.24%. The inflation rate in 1938 was -2.08%. The 1938 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 3.65% per year between 1938 and 2019.


Inflation from 1935 to 1938
Cumulative price change 2.92%
Average inflation rate 0.96%
Converted amount ($1 base) $1.03
Price difference ($1 base) $0.03
CPI in 1935 13.700
CPI in 1938 14.100
Inflation in 1935 2.24%
Inflation in 1938 -2.08%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $1 in 1935

This chart shows calculation of buying power equivalence, often referred to as "the value of a dollar" over time for $1 in 1935 (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 Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1935 $1.00 2.24%
1936 $1.01 1.46%
1937 $1.05 3.60%
1938 $1.03 -2.08%
1939 $1.01 -1.42%
1940 $1.02 0.72%
1941 $1.07 5.00%
1942 $1.19 10.88%
1943 $1.26 6.13%
1944 $1.28 1.73%
1945 $1.31 2.27%
1946 $1.42 8.33%
1947 $1.63 14.36%
1948 $1.76 8.07%
1949 $1.74 -1.24%
1950 $1.76 1.26%
1951 $1.90 7.88%
1952 $1.93 1.92%
1953 $1.95 0.75%
1954 $1.96 0.75%
1955 $1.96 -0.37%
1956 $1.99 1.49%
1957 $2.05 3.31%
1958 $2.11 2.85%
1959 $2.12 0.69%
1960 $2.16 1.72%
1961 $2.18 1.01%
1962 $2.20 1.00%
1963 $2.23 1.32%
1964 $2.26 1.31%
1965 $2.30 1.61%
1966 $2.36 2.86%
1967 $2.44 3.09%
1968 $2.54 4.19%
1969 $2.68 5.46%
1970 $2.83 5.72%
1971 $2.96 4.38%
1972 $3.05 3.21%
1973 $3.24 6.22%
1974 $3.60 11.04%
1975 $3.93 9.13%
1976 $4.15 5.76%
1977 $4.42 6.50%
1978 $4.76 7.59%
1979 $5.30 11.35%
1980 $6.01 13.50%
1981 $6.64 10.32%
1982 $7.04 6.16%
1983 $7.27 3.21%
1984 $7.58 4.32%
1985 $7.85 3.56%
1986 $8.00 1.86%
1987 $8.29 3.65%
1988 $8.64 4.14%
1989 $9.05 4.82%
1990 $9.54 5.40%
1991 $9.94 4.21%
1992 $10.24 3.01%
1993 $10.55 2.99%
1994 $10.82 2.56%
1995 $11.12 2.83%
1996 $11.45 2.95%
1997 $11.72 2.29%
1998 $11.90 1.56%
1999 $12.16 2.21%
2000 $12.57 3.36%
2001 $12.93 2.85%
2002 $13.13 1.58%
2003 $13.43 2.28%
2004 $13.79 2.66%
2005 $14.26 3.39%
2006 $14.72 3.23%
2007 $15.13 2.85%
2008 $15.72 3.84%
2009 $15.66 -0.36%
2010 $15.92 1.64%
2011 $16.42 3.16%
2012 $16.76 2.07%
2013 $17.00 1.46%
2014 $17.28 1.62%
2015 $17.30 0.12%
2016 $17.52 1.26%
2017 $17.89 2.13%
2018 $18.33 2.44%
2019 $18.78 2.48%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1935 to 1938 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $1):

Detroit, Michigan experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 3 years between 1935 and 1938 (3.09%).

Boston, Massachusetts experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 3 years between 1935 and 1938 (0.08%).

Note that some locations showing 0% inflation may have not yet reported latest data.


Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1.00 in 1935 would be equivalent to £1.06 in 1938, an absolute change of £0.06 and a cumulative change of 5.66%.

In Canada, CA$1.00 in 1935 would be equivalent to CA$1.03 in 1938, an absolute change of CA$0.03 and a cumulative change of 2.70%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $0.03 and total percent change of 2.92%.


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 1935 and 1938.

Compare these values to the overall average of 0.96% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1935 → 1938
Food -0.85 -2.53 0.97
Shelter 0.00 0.00 1.00
Energy 0.00 0.00 1.00
Apparel 1.67 5.10 1.05
New vehicles 0.00 0.00 1.00
Used cars and trucks 0.00 0.00 1.00
Transportation services -0.06 -0.17 1.00
Medical care services 0.50 1.51 1.02
Medical care commodities 0.31 0.95 1.01

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1935. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1, 1935 to 1938

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 1938CPI in 1935
×
1935 USD value
=
1938 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 13.7 in the year 1935 and 14.1 in 1938:

14.113.7
×
$1
=
$1.03

$1 in 1935 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $1.03 in 1938.

To get the total inflation rate for the 3 years between 1935 and 1938, we use the following formula:

CPI in 1938 - CPI in 1935CPI in 1935
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (3 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

14.1 - 13.713.7
×
100
=
3%

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 0.96% has a compounding effect between 1935 and 1938. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 2.92% over 3 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $1 in the S&P 500 index in 1935, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $1.64 in 1938. This is a return on investment of -36.18%, with an absolute return of $0.64 on top of the original $1.

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 2.84% of returns ($0.02) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1 investment is $0.62. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $1 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1935-1938
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $1 $1.64 -36.18%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$1 $0.62 -35.15%


News headlines from 1935

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

  • Hitler violates the Treaty of Versailles by ordering German rearmament.
  • In an event known as "Black Sunday", a severe sandstorm strikes the US Midwest, coining the term "Dust Bowl".
  • Communist forces end their Long March bringing Mao Zedong to prominence.
  • First trans-pacific airmail flight by a flying boat the "China Clipper" that took off from Alameda, California

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: “$1 in 1935 → 1938 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 18 Nov. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/1935-dollars-in-1938?amount=1.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.

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


About the author

Ian Webster is an engineer and data expert based in San Mateo, California. He has worked for Google, NASA, and consulted for governments around the world on data pipelines and data analysis. Disappointed by the lack of clear resources on the impacts of inflation on economic indicators, Ian believes this website serves as a valuable public tool. Ian earned his degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College.

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» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1935 to 1938
Cumulative price change 2.92%
Average inflation rate 0.96%
Converted amount ($1 base) $1.03
Price difference ($1 base) $0.03
CPI in 1935 13.700
CPI in 1938 14.100
Inflation in 1935 2.24%
Inflation in 1938 -2.08%
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