According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2019 are 38.88% higher than average prices throughout 2003. The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.07% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.
In other words, $238 in 2003 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $330.55 in 2019, a difference of $92.55 over 16 years.
The 2003 inflation rate was 2.28%. The current inflation rate (2018 to 2019) is now 2.00%1. If this number holds, $238 today will be equivalent in buying power to $242.75 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.
|Cumulative price change||38.88%|
|Average inflation rate||2.07%|
|Converted amount ($238 base)||$330.55|
|Price difference ($238 base)||$92.55|
|CPI in 2003||184.000|
|CPI in 2019||255.548|
|Inflation in 2003||2.28%|
|Inflation in 2019||2.00%|
This chart shows calculation of buying power equivalence, often referred to as "the value of a dollar" over time for $238 in 2003 (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|
Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 2003 to 2019 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $238):
San Diego, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 16 years between 2003 and 2019 (3.28%).
Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 16 years between 2003 and 2019 (1.53%).
Note that some locations showing 0% inflation may have not yet reported latest data.
Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £238.00 in 2003 would be equivalent to £373.18 in 2019, an absolute change of £135.18 and a cumulative change of 56.80%.
In Canada, CA$238.00 in 2003 would be equivalent to CA$307.65 in 2019, an absolute change of CA$69.65 and a cumulative change of 29.26%.
Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $92.55 and total percent change of 38.88%.
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 2003 and 2019.
Compare these values to the overall average of 2.07% per year:
|Category||Avg Inflation (%)||Total Inflation (%)||$238 in 2003 → 2019|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.22||-3.39||229.93|
|Medical care services||3.47||72.51||410.58|
|Medical care commodities||2.32||44.45||343.78|
It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 2003. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.
This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:
Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 184 in the year 2003 and 255.548 in 2019:
$238 in 2003 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $330.55 in 2019.
To get the total inflation rate for the 16 years between 2003 and 2019, we use the following formula:
Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:
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 1.91% per year between 2003 and 2019 (vs all-CPI inflation of 2.07%), for an inflation total of 35.26%.
When using the core inflation measurement, $238 in 2003 is equivalent in buying power to $321.92 in 2019, a difference of $83.92. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $330.55 with a difference of $92.55.
In 2003, core inflation was 1.45%.
Chained CPI is an alternative measurement that takes into account how consumers adjust spending for similar items. Chained inflation averaged 1.79% per year between 2003 and 2019, a total inflation amount of 35.26%.
According to the Chained CPI measurement, $238 in 2003 is equal in buying power to $316.17 in 2019, a difference of $78.17 (versus a converted amount of $330.55/change of $92.55 for All Items).
In 2003, chained inflation was 2.04%.
The average inflation rate of 2.07% has a compounding effect between 2003 and 2019. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 38.88% over 16 years.
To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $238 in the S&P 500 index in 2003, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $1,073.55 in 2019. This is a return on investment of 351.07%, with an absolute return of $835.55.
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 28.00% of returns ($233.94) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $238 investment is $601.61.
|Original Amount||Final Amount||Change|
Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:
Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index (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: “$238 in 2003 → 2019 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 25 May. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/2003?amount=238.
Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.
in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.