U.S. inflation rate in 1978: 7.59%

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Inflation since 1978 and its effect on dollar value

The consumer price index (CPI) in 1978 was 65.2. It was 60.6 in the previous year. This change in CPI is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate inflation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, the dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.44% per year. Prices in 2018 are 286.49% higher than prices in 1978.

In other words, $100 in 1978 is equivalent in purchasing power to $386.49 in 2018, a difference of $286.49 over 40 years.

The current inflation rate is now 2.87%1. If this number holds, $100 today will be equivalent to $102.87 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.

Inflation from 1978 to 2018
Cumulative price change 286.49%
Average inflation rate 3.44%
Converted amount ($100 base) $386.49
Price difference ($100 base) $286.49
CPI in 1978 65.2
CPI in 2018 251.989


U.S. inflation from 1913 to 2018


The above data describe the CPI for all items. Also of note is the Core CPI, which measures inflation for all items except for the more volatile categories of food and energy. Core inflation averaged 3.47% per year between 1978 and 2018 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.44%).

When using the core inflation measurement, $100 in 1978 is equivalent in buying power to $391.47 in 2018, a difference of $291.47. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $386.49 with a difference of $286.49.

In 1978, core inflation was 7.28%.


CPI is the weighted combination of many categories. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1978 and 2018.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.44% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) $100 in 1978 → 2018
Food 3.19 350.79
Shelter 4.13 504.63
Energy 3.63 416.96
Apparel 1.11 155.78
New vehicles 1.05 152.10
Used cars and trucks 0.61 127.74
Transportation services 3.35 372.89
Medical care services 5.47 843.21
Medical care commodities 4.55 593.87

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1978. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.


Inflation rates for specific categories

Dental services · Baby food · Atlanta, Georgia · More

Inflation-adjusted measures

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

How to calculate the inflation rate for $100 since 1978

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2018 / CPI in 1978 * 1978 USD value = 2018 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 65.2 in the year 1978 and 251.989 in 2018:

251.989 / 65.2 * $100 = $386.49

$100 in 1978 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $386.49 in 2018.


Buying power of $100 since 1978

This chart shows calculations of buying power equivalence over time for $100 in 1978 (price index tracking began in 1913).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Year USD Value Inflation Rate
1978 $100.00 7.59%
1979 $111.35 11.35%
1980 $126.38 13.50%
1981 $139.42 10.32%
1982 $148.01 6.16%
1983 $152.76 3.21%
1984 $159.36 4.32%
1985 $165.03 3.56%
1986 $168.10 1.86%
1987 $174.23 3.65%
1988 $181.44 4.14%
1989 $190.18 4.82%
1990 $200.46 5.40%
1991 $208.90 4.21%
1992 $215.18 3.01%
1993 $221.63 2.99%
1994 $227.30 2.56%
1995 $233.74 2.83%
1996 $240.64 2.95%
1997 $246.17 2.29%
1998 $250.00 1.56%
1999 $255.52 2.21%
2000 $264.11 3.36%
2001 $271.63 2.85%
2002 $275.92 1.58%
2003 $282.21 2.28%
2004 $289.72 2.66%
2005 $299.54 3.39%
2006 $309.20 3.23%
2007 $318.01 2.85%
2008 $330.22 3.84%
2009 $329.04 -0.36%
2010 $334.44 1.64%
2011 $345.00 3.16%
2012 $352.14 2.07%
2013 $357.30 1.46%
2014 $363.09 1.62%
2015 $363.52 0.12%
2016 $368.11 1.26%
2017 $375.44 1.99%
2018 $386.49 2.94%*
* Not final. See inflation summary for latest details.

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 1978 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 14 Jul. 2018, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1978.

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


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