U.S. inflation rate in 1919: 14.57%

Inflation Calculator


Inflation in 1919 and Its Effect on Dollar Value

Purchasing power decreased by 14.57% in 1919 compared to 1918. On average, you would have to spend 14.57% more money in 1919 than in 1918 for the same item.

In other words, $1 in 1918 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1.15 in 1919.

The 1918 inflation rate was 17.97%. The inflation rate in 1919 was 14.57%. The 1919 inflation rate is higher compared to the average inflation rate of 2.72% per year between 1919 and 2019.

Inflation rate is calculated by change in the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI in 1919 was 17.30. It was 15.10 in the previous year, 1918. The difference in CPI between the years is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to officially determine inflation.

Inflation from 1918 to 1919
Average inflation rate 14.57%
Converted amount ($1 base) $1.15
Price difference ($1 base) $0.15
CPI in 1918 15.100
CPI in 1919 17.300
Inflation in 1918 17.97%
Inflation in 1919 14.57%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1918 to 1919 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $1):

Seattle, Washington experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1918 and 1919 (31.68%).

Boston, Massachusetts experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1918 and 1919 (21.27%).

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 1918 would be equivalent to £1.10 in 1919, an absolute change of £0.10 and a cumulative change of 10.05%.

In Canada, CA$1.00 in 1918 would be equivalent to CA$1.09 in 1919, an absolute change of CA$0.09 and a cumulative change of 8.51%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $0.15 and total percent change of 14.57%.

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 1918 and 1919.

Compare these values to the overall average of 14.57% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1918 → 1919
Food 11.24 11.24 1.11
Shelter 0.00 0.00 1.00
Energy 0.00 0.00 1.00
Apparel 27.69 27.69 1.28
New vehicles 0.00 0.00 1.00
Used cars and trucks 0.00 0.00 1.00
Transportation services 0.00 0.00 1.00
Medical care services 0.00 0.00 1.00
Medical care commodities 0.00 0.00 1.00

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1918. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1, 1918 to 1919

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 1919CPI in 1918
1918 USD value
1919 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 15.1 in the year 1918 and 17.3 in 1919:


$1 in 1918 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $1.15 in 1919.

To get the total inflation rate for the 1 years between 1918 and 1919, we use the following formula:

CPI in 1919 - CPI in 1918CPI in 1918
Cumulative inflation rate (1 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

17.3 - 15.115.1

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $1 in the S&P 500 index in 1918, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $1.41 in 1919. This is a return on investment of 41.46%, with an absolute return of $0.41.

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 12.72% of returns ($0.05) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1 investment is $0.36.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1918-1919
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $1 $1.41 41.46%
Inflation Adjusted
$1 $0.36 36.19%

News headlines from 1918

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

  • First recorded case of Spanish flu in Kansas, marking the beginning of a worldwide pandemic killing millions.
  • The Bolshevik Party changes its name to the Communist Party.
  • Moscow is declared the capital of Russia.
  • Tsar Nicholas II of Russia is executed along with his family by a Bolshevik squad in Ekaterinburg.

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: “Inflation Rate in 1919 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 23 Apr. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1919.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.

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

» Read more about inflation and investment.