$50,000 in 1981 → $141,231.57 in 2019

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$50,000 in 1981 → $141,231.57 in 2019

U.S. Inflation Rate, $50,000 in 1981 to 2019

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2019 are 182.46% higher than average prices throughout 1981. The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.77% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $50,000 in 1981 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $141,231.57 in 2019, a difference of $91,231.57 over 38 years.

The 1981 inflation rate was 10.32%. The current inflation rate (2018 to 2019) is now 1.71%1. If this number holds, $50,000 today will be equivalent in buying power to $50,855.65 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1981 to 2019
Cumulative price change 182.46%
Average inflation rate 2.77%
Converted amount ($50,000 base) $141,231.57
Price difference ($50,000 base) $91,231.57
CPI in 1981 90.900
CPI in 2019 256.759
Inflation in 1981 10.32%
Inflation in 2019 1.71%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $50,000 in 1981

This chart shows calculation of buying power equivalence, often referred to as "the value of a dollar" over time for $50,000 in 1981 (price index tracking began in 1635).

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 Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1981 $50,000.00 10.32%
1982 $53,080.31 6.16%
1983 $54,785.48 3.21%
1984 $57,150.72 4.32%
1985 $59,185.92 3.56%
1986 $60,286.03 1.86%
1987 $62,486.25 3.65%
1988 $65,071.51 4.14%
1989 $68,206.82 4.82%
1990 $71,892.19 5.40%
1991 $74,917.49 4.21%
1992 $77,172.72 3.01%
1993 $79,482.95 2.99%
1994 $81,518.15 2.56%
1995 $83,828.38 2.83%
1996 $86,303.63 2.95%
1997 $88,283.83 2.29%
1998 $89,658.97 1.56%
1999 $91,639.16 2.21%
2000 $94,719.47 3.36%
2001 $97,414.74 2.85%
2002 $98,954.90 1.58%
2003 $101,210.12 2.28%
2004 $103,905.39 2.66%
2005 $107,425.74 3.39%
2006 $110,891.09 3.23%
2007 $114,049.50 2.85%
2008 $118,428.49 3.84%
2009 $118,007.15 -0.36%
2010 $119,942.79 1.64%
2011 $123,728.82 3.16%
2012 $126,289.33 2.07%
2013 $128,139.16 1.46%
2014 $130,217.82 1.62%
2015 $130,372.39 0.12%
2016 $132,017.05 1.26%
2017 $134,829.48 2.13%
2018 $138,122.57 2.44%
2019 $141,231.57 2.25%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 32 more rows

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1981 to 2019 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $50,000):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 38 years between 1981 and 2019 (3.15%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 38 years between 1981 and 2019 (2.45%).

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 £50,000.00 in 1981 would be equivalent to £190,071.53 in 2019, an absolute change of £140,071.53 and a cumulative change of 280.14%.

In Canada, CA$50,000.00 in 1981 would be equivalent to CA$128,764.48 in 2019, an absolute change of CA$78,764.48 and a cumulative change of 157.53%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $91,231.57 and total percent change of 182.46%.


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 1981 and 2019.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.77% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $50,000 in 1981 → 2019
Food 2.70 175.62 137,810.19
Shelter 3.35 250.32 175,158.44
Energy 2.09 119.20 109,599.68
Apparel 0.71 30.66 65,328.22
New vehicles 1.04 48.25 74,125.48
Used cars and trucks 0.62 26.60 63,299.76
Transportation services 3.48 266.30 183,151.56
Medical care services 5.02 543.13 321,563.25
Medical care commodities 4.06 354.31 227,157.08

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1981. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $50,000 since 1981

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2019CPI in 1981
×
1981 USD value
=
2019 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 90.9 in the year 1981 and 256.759 in 2019:

256.75990.9
×
$50,000
=
$141,231.57

$50,000 in 1981 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $141,231.57 in 2019.

To get the total inflation rate for the 38 years between 1981 and 2019, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2019 - CPI in 1981CPI in 1981
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (38 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

256.759 - 90.990.9
×
100
=
182%

Alternate Measurements of Inflation

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 2.88% per year between 1981 and 2019 (vs all-CPI inflation of 2.77%), for an inflation total of 194.27%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $50,000 in 1981 is equivalent in buying power to $147,135.61 in 2019, a difference of $97,135.61. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $141,231.57 with a difference of $91,231.57.

In 1981, core inflation was 10.46%.


Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 2.77% has a compounding effect between 1981 and 2019. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 182.46% over 38 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $50,000 in the S&P 500 index in 1981, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $2,871,813.13 in 2019. This is a return on investment of 5,643.63%, with an absolute return of $2,821,813.13.

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 64.60% of returns ($1,822,810.90) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $50,000 investment is $999,002.23.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1981-2019
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $50,000 $2,871,813.13 5,643.63%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$50,000 $999,002.23 1,998.00%


News headlines from 1981

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

  • Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the President of the United States.
  • IBM introduces its first PC - Personal Computer.
  • United States Center for Disease Control reports that pneumonia is affecting five homosexual men in Los Angeles, which marks the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

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: “$50,000 in 1981 → 2019 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 19 Oct. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1981?amount=50000.

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 1981 to 2019
Cumulative price change 182.46%
Average inflation rate 2.77%
Converted amount ($50,000 base) $141,231.57
Price difference ($50,000 base) $91,231.57
CPI in 1981 90.900
CPI in 2019 256.759
Inflation in 1981 10.32%
Inflation in 2019 1.71%
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