U.S. inflation rate in 1940: 0.72%

Inflation Calculator


U.S. inflation rate in 1940: 0.72%

Inflation in 1940 and Its Effect on Dollar Value

Purchasing power decreased by 0.72% in 1940 compared to 1939. On average, you would have to spend 0.72% more money in 1940 than in 1939 for the same item.

In other words, $1 in 1939 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1.01 in 1940.

The 1939 inflation rate was -1.42%. The inflation rate in 1940 was 0.72%. The 1940 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 3.75% per year between 1940 and 2019.

Inflation rate is calculated by change in the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI in 1940 was 14.00. It was 13.90 in the previous year, 1939. The difference in CPI between the years is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to officially determine inflation.

Inflation from 1939 to 1940
Average inflation rate 0.72%
Converted amount ($1 base) $1.01
Price difference ($1 base) $0.01
CPI in 1939 13.900
CPI in 1940 14.000
Inflation in 1939 -1.42%
Inflation in 1940 0.72%

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 1939 to 1940 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $1):

New York experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1939 and 1940 (1.03%).

Atlanta, Georgia experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1939 and 1940 (-0.31%).

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 1939 would be equivalent to £1.17 in 1940, an absolute change of £0.17 and a cumulative change of 16.76%.

In Canada, CA$1.00 in 1939 would be equivalent to CA$1.05 in 1940, an absolute change of CA$0.05 and a cumulative change of 5.13%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $0.01 and total percent change of 0.72%.

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 1939 and 1940.

Compare these values to the overall average of 0.72% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1939 → 1940
Food 1.37 1.37 1.01
Shelter 0.00 0.00 1.00
Energy 0.00 0.00 1.00
Apparel 0.90 0.90 1.01
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 0.24 0.24 1.00
Medical care commodities -0.31 -0.31 1.00

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1939. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1, 1939 to 1940

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 1940CPI in 1939
1939 USD value
1940 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 13.9 in the year 1939 and 14 in 1940:


$1 in 1939 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $1.01 in 1940.

To get the total inflation rate for the 1 years between 1939 and 1940, we use the following formula:

CPI in 1940 - CPI in 1939CPI in 1939
Cumulative inflation rate (1 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

14 - 13.913.9

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 1939, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $0.94 in 1940. This is a return on investment of -6.20%, with an absolute return of $-0.06.

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 0.71% of returns ($0.00) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1 investment is $-0.06.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1939-1940
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $1 $0.94 -6.20%
Inflation Adjusted
$1 $-0.06 -6.16%

News headlines from 1939

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

  • 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, signaling the start of World War II.
  • 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.

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 1940 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 20 Oct. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1940.

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.

Inflation from 1939 to 1940
Average inflation rate 0.72%
Converted amount ($1 base) $1.01
Price difference ($1 base) $0.01
CPI in 1939 13.900
CPI in 1940 14.000
Inflation in 1939 -1.42%
Inflation in 1940 0.72%