U.S. inflation rate in 1938: -2.08%

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U.S. Inflation Rate, 1938-2017 ($1)

The consumer price index (CPI) in 1938 was 14.1. the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses this CPI value to track inflation on a monthly basis.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.68% per year. Prices in 2017 are 1636.0% higher than prices in 1938.

In other words, $1 in the year 1938 is equivalent to $17.36 in 2017, a difference of $16.36 over 79 years.

The current inflation rate in 2017 is 1.99%1. If this number holds, $1 today will be equivalent to $1.02 next year.

Inflation from 1938 to 2017
Cumulative price change 1636.00%
Average inflation rate 3.68%
Price difference ($1 base) $16.36
CPI in 1938 14.1
CPI in 2017 244.786


U.S. inflation from 1913 to 2017


Inflation rates for specific categories

Televisions · College tuition and fees · Wireless telephone services · More

Inflation-adjusted measures

S&P 500 price · S&P 500 earnings · Shiller P/E

How to calculate the inflation rate for $1 since 1938

Start with the inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2017 / CPI in 1938 * 1938 USD value = 2017 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 14.1 in the year 1938 and 244.786 in 2017:

244.786 / 14.1 * $1 = $17.36

The "purchasing power" of $1 from 1938 is $17.36 in 2017.


News headlines from 1938

Politics and news often play an important role in economic performance.

  • Anthony Eden resigns as United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary, after stating that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain has appeased Nazi Germany.
  • Czechoslovakia is forced to give territory to Germany after the Treaty of Munich was signed by Hitler, Mussolini, Daladier and Chamberlain.
  • Joseph Kennedy is named the 44th US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Inflation Data Source: 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.


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