# \$20 in 1946 → \$262.21 in 2019

## Inflation Calculator

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👉 You may be interested in \$20 in 1946 → 2020

### U.S. Inflation Rate, \$20 from 1946 to 2019

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, prices in 2019 are 1,211.06% higher than average prices since 1946. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.59% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, \$20 in 1946 is equivalent in purchasing power to about \$262.21 in 2019, a difference of \$242.21 over 73 years.

The 1946 inflation rate was 8.33%. The inflation rate in 2019 was 1.76%. The 2019 inflation rate is higher compared to the average inflation rate of 1.18% per year between 2019 and 2020.

 Cumulative price change 1,211.06% Average inflation rate 3.59% Converted amount (\$20 base) \$262.21 Price difference (\$20 base) \$242.21 CPI in 1946 19.500 CPI in 2019 255.658 Inflation in 1946 8.33% Inflation in 2019 1.76%

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

### Buying power of \$20 in 1946

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for \$20 in 1946 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with \$20, you would need to end with \$262.21 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When \$20 is equivalent to \$262.21 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 1946 dollars, the chart below shows how \$20 buys less over the past 73 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
1946 \$20.00 8.33%
1947 \$22.87 14.36%
1948 \$24.72 8.07%
1949 \$24.41 -1.24%
1950 \$24.72 1.26%
1951 \$26.67 7.88%
1952 \$27.18 1.92%
1953 \$27.38 0.75%
1954 \$27.59 0.75%
1955 \$27.49 -0.37%
1956 \$27.90 1.49%
1957 \$28.82 3.31%
1958 \$29.64 2.85%
1959 \$29.85 0.69%
1960 \$30.36 1.72%
1961 \$30.67 1.01%
1962 \$30.97 1.00%
1963 \$31.38 1.32%
1964 \$31.79 1.31%
1965 \$32.31 1.61%
1966 \$33.23 2.86%
1967 \$34.26 3.09%
1968 \$35.69 4.19%
1969 \$37.64 5.46%
1970 \$39.79 5.72%
1971 \$41.54 4.38%
1972 \$42.87 3.21%
1973 \$45.54 6.22%
1974 \$50.56 11.04%
1975 \$55.18 9.13%
1976 \$58.36 5.76%
1977 \$62.15 6.50%
1978 \$66.87 7.59%
1979 \$74.46 11.35%
1980 \$84.51 13.50%
1981 \$93.23 10.32%
1982 \$98.97 6.16%
1983 \$102.15 3.21%
1984 \$106.56 4.32%
1985 \$110.36 3.56%
1986 \$112.41 1.86%
1987 \$116.51 3.65%
1988 \$121.33 4.14%
1989 \$127.18 4.82%
1990 \$134.05 5.40%
1991 \$139.69 4.21%
1992 \$143.90 3.01%
1993 \$148.21 2.99%
1994 \$152.00 2.56%
1995 \$156.31 2.83%
1996 \$160.92 2.95%
1997 \$164.62 2.29%
1998 \$167.18 1.56%
1999 \$170.87 2.21%
2000 \$176.62 3.36%
2001 \$181.64 2.85%
2002 \$184.51 1.58%
2003 \$188.72 2.28%
2004 \$193.74 2.66%
2005 \$200.31 3.39%
2006 \$206.77 3.23%
2007 \$212.66 2.85%
2008 \$220.82 3.84%
2009 \$220.04 -0.36%
2010 \$223.65 1.64%
2011 \$230.71 3.16%
2012 \$235.48 2.07%
2013 \$238.93 1.46%
2014 \$242.81 1.62%
2015 \$243.09 0.12%
2016 \$246.16 1.26%
2017 \$251.41 2.13%
2018 \$257.67 2.49%
2019 \$262.21 1.76%
2020 \$265.31 1.18%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 67 more rows

### Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1946 to 2019 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of \$20):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 73 years between 1946 and 2019 (3.89%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 73 years between 1946 and 2019 (3.44%).

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 1946 would be equivalent to £830.68 in 2019, an absolute change of £810.68 and a cumulative change of 4,053.41%.

In Canada, CA\$20.00 in 1946 would be equivalent to CA\$275.05 in 2019, an absolute change of CA\$255.05 and a cumulative change of 1,275.26%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of \$242.21 and total percent change of 1,211.06%.

### 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 1946 and 2019.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.59% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) \$20 in 1946 → 2019
Food and beverages 3.92 1,552.32 330.46
Housing 4.23 1,963.07 412.61
Apparel 1.77 260.70 72.14
Transportation 3.52 1,145.96 249.19
Medical care 5.14 3,769.65 773.93
Recreation 1.10 121.65 44.33
Education and communication 1.85 281.01 76.20
Other goods and services 5.04 3,511.10 722.22

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 1946. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

### How to Calculate Inflation Rate for \$20, 1946 to 2019

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2019CPI in 1946
×
1946 USD value
=
2019 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 19.5 in the year 1946 and 255.6575 in 2019:

255.657519.5
×
\$20
=
\$262.21

\$20 in 1946 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as \$262.21 in 2019.

To get the total inflation rate for the 73 years between 1946 and 2019, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2019 - CPI in 1946CPI in 1946
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (73 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

255.6575 - 19.519.5
×
100
=
1,211%

### Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 3.59% has a compounding effect between 1946 and 2019. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 1,211.06% over 73 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested \$20 in the S&P 500 index in 1946, our investment would be nominally worth approximately \$41,866.82 in 2019. This is a return on investment of 209,234.08%, with an absolute return of \$41,846.82 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 92.37% of returns (\$38,673.47) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our \$20 investment is \$3,173.35. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around \$2,697 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1946-2019
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal \$20 \$41,866.82 209,234.08%
Real
\$20 \$3,193.35 15,866.73%

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 1946 to latest available data for 2019 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1946 and 2019, see the stock market returns calculator.

### News headlines from 1946

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

• The United Nations General Assembly meets for the first time in London.
• President Harry Truman sets up the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA.
• The US State Department releases the Acheson-Lilenthal Report outlining a plan for how the US can limit nuclear power internationally, marking the beginning of Cold War.
• Twenty-two Nazi leaders found guilty of war crimes during the Nuremburg trials.

### 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 1946 → 2019 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 5 Apr. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/1946-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.

 Cumulative price change 1,211.06% Average inflation rate 3.59% Converted amount (\$20 base) \$262.21 Price difference (\$20 base) \$242.21 CPI in 1946 19.500 CPI in 2019 255.658 Inflation in 1946 8.33% Inflation in 2019 1.76%