# \$1 in 1917 → \$20.21 in 2020

## Inflation Calculator

\$

### U.S. Inflation Rate, \$1 from 1917 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 1,920.92% higher than average prices since 1917. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.96% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, \$1 in 1917 is equivalent in purchasing power to about \$20.21 in 2020, a difference of \$19.21 over 103 years.

The 1917 inflation rate was 17.43%. The current inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 2.33%1. If this number holds, \$1 today will be equivalent in buying power to \$1.02 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.

 Cumulative price change 1,920.92% Average inflation rate 2.96% Converted amount (\$1 base) \$20.21 Price difference (\$1 base) \$19.21 CPI in 1917 12.800 CPI in 2020 258.678 Inflation in 1917 17.43% Inflation in 2020 2.33%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

### Buying power of \$1 in 1917

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for \$1 in 1917 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with \$1, you would need to end with \$20.21 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When \$1 is equivalent to \$20.21 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.S. dollar decreases over time. In other words, a dollar will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a dollar over time. By calculating the value in 1917 dollars, the chart below shows how \$1 buys less over the past 103 years.

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
1917 \$1.00 17.43%
1918 \$1.18 17.97%
1919 \$1.35 14.57%
1920 \$1.56 15.61%
1921 \$1.40 -10.50%
1922 \$1.31 -6.15%
1923 \$1.34 1.79%
1924 \$1.34 0.00%
1925 \$1.37 2.34%
1926 \$1.38 1.14%
1927 \$1.36 -1.69%
1928 \$1.34 -1.72%
1929 \$1.34 0.00%
1930 \$1.30 -2.34%
1931 \$1.19 -8.98%
1932 \$1.07 -9.87%
1933 \$1.02 -5.11%
1934 \$1.05 3.08%
1935 \$1.07 2.24%
1936 \$1.09 1.46%
1937 \$1.13 3.60%
1938 \$1.10 -2.08%
1939 \$1.09 -1.42%
1940 \$1.09 0.72%
1941 \$1.15 5.00%
1942 \$1.27 10.88%
1943 \$1.35 6.13%
1944 \$1.38 1.73%
1945 \$1.41 2.27%
1946 \$1.52 8.33%
1947 \$1.74 14.36%
1948 \$1.88 8.07%
1949 \$1.86 -1.24%
1950 \$1.88 1.26%
1951 \$2.03 7.88%
1952 \$2.07 1.92%
1953 \$2.09 0.75%
1954 \$2.10 0.75%
1955 \$2.09 -0.37%
1956 \$2.13 1.49%
1957 \$2.20 3.31%
1958 \$2.26 2.85%
1959 \$2.27 0.69%
1960 \$2.31 1.72%
1961 \$2.34 1.01%
1962 \$2.36 1.00%
1963 \$2.39 1.32%
1964 \$2.42 1.31%
1965 \$2.46 1.61%
1966 \$2.53 2.86%
1967 \$2.61 3.09%
1968 \$2.72 4.19%
1969 \$2.87 5.46%
1970 \$3.03 5.72%
1971 \$3.16 4.38%
1972 \$3.27 3.21%
1973 \$3.47 6.22%
1974 \$3.85 11.04%
1975 \$4.20 9.13%
1976 \$4.45 5.76%
1977 \$4.73 6.50%
1978 \$5.09 7.59%
1979 \$5.67 11.35%
1980 \$6.44 13.50%
1981 \$7.10 10.32%
1982 \$7.54 6.16%
1983 \$7.78 3.21%
1984 \$8.12 4.32%
1985 \$8.41 3.56%
1986 \$8.56 1.86%
1987 \$8.87 3.65%
1988 \$9.24 4.14%
1989 \$9.69 4.82%
1990 \$10.21 5.40%
1991 \$10.64 4.21%
1992 \$10.96 3.01%
1993 \$11.29 2.99%
1994 \$11.58 2.56%
1995 \$11.91 2.83%
1996 \$12.26 2.95%
1997 \$12.54 2.29%
1998 \$12.73 1.56%
1999 \$13.02 2.21%
2000 \$13.45 3.36%
2001 \$13.84 2.85%
2002 \$14.05 1.58%
2003 \$14.38 2.28%
2004 \$14.76 2.66%
2005 \$15.26 3.39%
2006 \$15.75 3.23%
2007 \$16.20 2.85%
2008 \$16.82 3.84%
2009 \$16.76 -0.36%
2010 \$17.04 1.64%
2011 \$17.57 3.16%
2012 \$17.94 2.07%
2013 \$18.20 1.46%
2014 \$18.49 1.62%
2015 \$18.52 0.12%
2016 \$18.75 1.26%
2017 \$19.15 2.13%
2018 \$19.63 2.49%
2019 \$19.97 1.76%
2020 \$20.21 1.18%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 97 more rows

### Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1917 to 2020 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of \$1):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 103 years between 1917 and 2020 (3.34%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 103 years between 1917 and 2020 (2.95%).

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 1917 would be equivalent to £69.83 in 2020, an absolute change of £68.83 and a cumulative change of 6,883.09%.

In Canada, CA\$1.00 in 1917 would be equivalent to CA\$16.43 in 2020, an absolute change of CA\$15.43 and a cumulative change of 1,543.37%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of \$19.21 and total percent change of 1,920.92%.

### 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 1917 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.96% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) \$1 in 1917 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.86 4,857.92 49.58
Housing 4.18 6,704.32 68.04
Apparel 1.72 478.52 5.79
Transportation 3.21 2,486.52 25.87
Medical care 5.10 16,716.84 168.17
Recreation 1.10 207.54 3.08
Education and communication 1.82 539.06 6.39
Other goods and services 4.97 14,732.89 148.33

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1917. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

### How to Calculate Inflation Rate for \$1 since 1917

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2020CPI in 1917
×
1917 USD value
=
2020 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 12.8 in the year 1917 and 258.678 in 2020:

258.67812.8
×
\$1
=
\$20.21

\$1 in 1917 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as \$20.21 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 103 years between 1917 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1917CPI in 1917
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (103 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

258.678 - 12.812.8
×
100
=
1,921%

### Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 2.96% has a compounding effect between 1917 and 2020. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 1,920.92% over 103 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested \$1 in the S&P 500 index in 1917, our investment would be nominally worth approximately \$21,149.85 in 2020. This is a return on investment of 2,114,884.92%, with an absolute return of \$21,148.85 on top of the original \$1.

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 95.05% of returns (\$20,103.30) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our \$1 investment is \$1,045.54. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around \$889 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1917-2020
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal \$1 \$21,149.85 2,114,884.92%
Real
\$1 \$1,046.54 104,554.46%

Information displayed above may differ slightly from other S&P 500 calculators. Minor discrepancies can occur because we use the latest CPI data for inflation, annualized inflation numbers for previous years, and we compute S&P price and dividends from January of 1917 to latest available data for 2020 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1917 and 2020, see the stock market returns calculator.

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

• The Russian "February Revolution" begins alongside protests celebrating Women's Day and St Petersburg riots.
• Tsar Nicholas II abdicates, nominating his brother, Grand Duke Michael, to succeed him.
• President Wilson asks US Congress to declare war against Germany.
• Vladimir Lenin issues the "April Theses" appealing for Soviets to take power during Russian Revolution.
• Leon Trotsky becomes chairman of the Petrograd Soviet after the Bolsheviks gain control.

### 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: “\$1 in 1917 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 5 Apr. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/1917-dollars-in-2020?amount=1.