$20 in 1943 → $297.51 in 2019

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$20 in 1943 → $297.51 in 2019

U.S. Inflation Rate, $20 in 1943 to 2019

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2019 are 1,387.55% higher than average prices throughout 1943. The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.62% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $20 in 1943 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $297.51 in 2019, a difference of $277.51 over 76 years.

The 1943 inflation rate was 6.13%. The current inflation rate (2018 to 2019) is now 1.76%1. If this number holds, $20 today will be equivalent in buying power to $20.35 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1943 to 2019
Cumulative price change 1,387.55%
Average inflation rate 3.62%
Converted amount ($20 base) $297.51
Price difference ($20 base) $277.51
CPI in 1943 17.300
CPI in 2019 257.346
Inflation in 1943 6.13%
Inflation in 2019 1.76%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $20 in 1943

This chart shows calculation of buying power equivalence, often referred to as "the value of a dollar" over time for $20 in 1943 (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
1943 $20.00 6.13%
1944 $20.35 1.73%
1945 $20.81 2.27%
1946 $22.54 8.33%
1947 $25.78 14.36%
1948 $27.86 8.07%
1949 $27.51 -1.24%
1950 $27.86 1.26%
1951 $30.06 7.88%
1952 $30.64 1.92%
1953 $30.87 0.75%
1954 $31.10 0.75%
1955 $30.98 -0.37%
1956 $31.45 1.49%
1957 $32.49 3.31%
1958 $33.41 2.85%
1959 $33.64 0.69%
1960 $34.22 1.72%
1961 $34.57 1.01%
1962 $34.91 1.00%
1963 $35.38 1.32%
1964 $35.84 1.31%
1965 $36.42 1.61%
1966 $37.46 2.86%
1967 $38.61 3.09%
1968 $40.23 4.19%
1969 $42.43 5.46%
1970 $44.86 5.72%
1971 $46.82 4.38%
1972 $48.32 3.21%
1973 $51.33 6.22%
1974 $56.99 11.04%
1975 $62.20 9.13%
1976 $65.78 5.76%
1977 $70.06 6.50%
1978 $75.38 7.59%
1979 $83.93 11.35%
1980 $95.26 13.50%
1981 $105.09 10.32%
1982 $111.56 6.16%
1983 $115.14 3.21%
1984 $120.12 4.32%
1985 $124.39 3.56%
1986 $126.71 1.86%
1987 $131.33 3.65%
1988 $136.76 4.14%
1989 $143.35 4.82%
1990 $151.10 5.40%
1991 $157.46 4.21%
1992 $162.20 3.01%
1993 $167.05 2.99%
1994 $171.33 2.56%
1995 $176.18 2.83%
1996 $181.39 2.95%
1997 $185.55 2.29%
1998 $188.44 1.56%
1999 $192.60 2.21%
2000 $199.08 3.36%
2001 $204.74 2.85%
2002 $207.98 1.58%
2003 $212.72 2.28%
2004 $218.38 2.66%
2005 $225.78 3.39%
2006 $233.06 3.23%
2007 $239.70 2.85%
2008 $248.91 3.84%
2009 $248.02 -0.36%
2010 $252.09 1.64%
2011 $260.05 3.16%
2012 $265.43 2.07%
2013 $269.31 1.46%
2014 $273.68 1.62%
2015 $274.01 0.12%
2016 $277.46 1.26%
2017 $283.38 2.13%
2018 $290.30 2.44%
2019 $297.51 2.48%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 70 more rows

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1943 to 2019 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $20):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 76 years between 1943 and 2019 (3.91%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 76 years between 1943 and 2019 (3.47%).

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 £20.00 in 1943 would be equivalent to £904.37 in 2019, an absolute change of £884.37 and a cumulative change of 4,421.86%.

In Canada, CA$20.00 in 1943 would be equivalent to CA$290.00 in 2019, an absolute change of CA$270.00 and a cumulative change of 1,350.00%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $277.51 and total percent change of 1,387.55%.


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 1943 and 2019.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.62% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $20 in 1943 → 2019
Food 3.64 1,409.07 301.81
Shelter 4.09 2,008.02 421.60
Energy 3.78 1,578.28 335.66
Apparel 1.99 347.52 89.50
New vehicles 1.04 119.78 43.96
Used cars and trucks 0.62 60.27 32.05
Transportation services 4.38 2,503.17 520.63
Medical care services 5.48 5,675.86 1,155.17
Medical care commodities 3.27 1,053.00 230.60

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 1943. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $20 since 1943

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2019CPI in 1943
×
1943 USD value
=
2019 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 17.3 in the year 1943 and 257.346 in 2019:

257.34617.3
×
$20
=
$297.51

$20 in 1943 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $297.51 in 2019.

To get the total inflation rate for the 76 years between 1943 and 2019, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2019 - CPI in 1943CPI in 1943
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (76 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

257.346 - 17.317.3
×
100
=
1,388%

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 3.62% has a compounding effect between 1943 and 2019. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 1,387.55% over 76 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $20 in the S&P 500 index in 1943, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $81,766.57 in 2019. This is a return on investment of 408,732.83%, with an absolute return of $81,746.57 on top of the original $20.

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 93.28% of returns ($76,269.84) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $20 investment is $5,476.73. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $4,655 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1943-2019
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $20 $81,766.57 408,732.83%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$20 $5,496.73 27,383.65%

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 1943 to latest available data for 2019.


News headlines from 1943

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

  • German general Friedrich von Paul surrenders to the Russians in Stalingrad.
  • The Japanese evacuate Guadalcanal, leading to one of the great WWII battles on the Solomon Islands
  • The Krakow Ghetto is liquidated by the Nazis.
  • The RAF bomb the Möhne and Eder dams in the Ruhr valley, in an operation known as Chastise.
  • Himmler orders the extermination of all the Nazi ghettos in 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: “$20 in 1943 → 2019 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 29 Nov. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/1943-dollars-in-2019?amount=20.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.

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


About the author

Ian Webster is an engineer and data expert based in San Mateo, California. He has worked for Google, NASA, and consulted for governments around the world on data pipelines and data analysis. Disappointed by the lack of clear resources on the impacts of inflation on economic indicators, Ian believes this website serves as a valuable public tool. Ian earned his degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College.

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» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1943 to 2019
Cumulative price change 1,387.55%
Average inflation rate 3.62%
Converted amount ($20 base) $297.51
Price difference ($20 base) $277.51
CPI in 1943 17.300
CPI in 2019 257.346
Inflation in 1943 6.13%
Inflation in 2019 1.76%
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