U.S. inflation rate in 1932: -9.87%

Inflation Calculator


Inflation in 1932 and Its Effect on Dollar Value

Purchasing power increased by 9.87% in 1932 compared to 1931. On average, you would have to spend 9.87% less money in 1932 than in 1931 for the same item. This is an example of deflation.

In other words, $1 in 1931 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $0.90 in 1932.

The 1931 inflation rate was -8.98%. The inflation rate in 1932 was -9.87%. The 1932 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 3.41% per year between 1932 and 2019.

Inflation rate is calculated by change in the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI in 1932 was 13.70. It was 15.20 in the previous year, 1931. The difference in CPI between the years is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to officially determine inflation. Because the 1932 CPI is less than 1931 CPI, negative inflation (also known as deflation) has occurred.

Inflation from 1931 to 1932
Average inflation rate -9.87%
Converted amount ($1 base) $0.90
Price difference ($1 base) $-0.10
CPI in 1931 15.200
CPI in 1932 13.700
Inflation in 1931 -8.98%
Inflation in 1932 -9.87%

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 1931 to 1932 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $1):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1931 and 1932 (-8.27%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1931 and 1932 (-12.73%).

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 1931 would be equivalent to £0.98 in 1932, an absolute change of £-0.02 and a cumulative change of -2.41%.

In Canada, CA$1.00 in 1931 would be equivalent to CA$0.92 in 1932, an absolute change of CA$-0.08 and a cumulative change of -7.59%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $-0.10 and total percent change of -9.87%.

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 1931 and 1932.

Compare these values to the overall average of -9.87% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1931 → 1932
Food -16.88 -16.88 0.83
Shelter 0.00 0.00 1.00
Energy 0.00 0.00 1.00
Apparel -11.11 -11.11 0.89
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 1931. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1, 1931 to 1932

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 1932CPI in 1931
1931 USD value
1932 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 15.2 in the year 1931 and 13.7 in 1932:


$1 in 1931 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $0.90 in 1932.

To get the total inflation rate for the 1 years between 1931 and 1932, we use the following formula:

CPI in 1932 - CPI in 1931CPI in 1931
Cumulative inflation rate (1 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

13.7 - 15.215.2

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 1931, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $0.53 in 1932. This is a return on investment of -47.44%, with an absolute return of $-0.47.

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 -10.95% of returns ($0.05) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1 investment is $-0.53.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1931-1932
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $1 $0.53 -47.44%
Inflation Adjusted
$1 $-0.53 -52.63%

News headlines from 1931

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

  • The Empire State Building opens in New York.
  • A railway explosion is faked by the Japanese in order to create a pretext for their Manchuria invasion.
  • Proclamation of the Chinese People's Republic by Mao Zedong.

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 1932 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 24 Apr. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1932.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.

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

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