U.S. inflation rate in 1939: -1.42%

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U.S. Inflation Rate, 1939-2017 ($1)

The consumer price index (CPI) in 1939 was 13.9. 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 3.75% per year. Prices in 2017 are 1661.0% higher than prices in 1939.

In other words, $1 in the year 1939 is equivalent to $17.61 in 2017, a difference of $16.61 over 78 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 1939 to 2017
Cumulative price change 1661.00%
Average inflation rate 3.75%
Price difference ($1 base) $16.61
CPI in 1939 13.9
CPI in 2017 244.786


U.S. inflation from 1913 to 2017


Inflation rates for specific categories

Housing · Rent of primary residence · Food · More

Inflation-adjusted measures

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

How to calculate the inflation rate for $1 since 1939

Start with the inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2017 / CPI in 1939 * 1939 USD value = 2017 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 13.9 in the year 1939 and 244.786 in 2017:

244.786 / 13.9 * $1 = $17.61

$1 in 1939 has the same "purchasing power" as $17.61 in 2017.


News headlines from 1939

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

  • Hitler makes a speech to the German Reichstag where he threatens Jews.
  • Mahatma Gandhi begins his fast in protest against Britain’s autocratic rule in India
  • The Battle of Nanchang takes place between the Kuomintang ant the Japanese, during Sino-Japanese War.
  • The Spanish Civil War ends when Madrid falls to Francisco Franco.
  • Britain and France declare war on Germany after it invades Poland signalling the start of World War II.
  • 1940
  • Mussolini’s Italy joins Hitler's war against Great Britain and France.
  • Winston Churchill is named British Prime Minister, succeeding Neville Chamberlain.
  • Nazi blitzkrieg conquest of France begins when the Germans cross the Muese River.
  • Auschwitz concentration camp is opened in Nazi controlled Poland,.

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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