View $20 in 1970 → **2020**

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, prices in 2019 are 558.91% higher than average prices since 1970. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.92% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $20 in 1970 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $131.78 in 2019, a difference of $111.78 over 49 years.

The 1970 inflation rate was 5.72%. The inflation rate in 2019 was 1.76%. The 2019 inflation rate is higher compared to the average inflation rate of 0.51% per year between 2019 and 2020.

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Cumulative price change | 558.91% |

Average inflation rate | 3.92% |

Converted amount ($20 base) | $131.78 |

Price difference ($20 base) | $111.78 |

CPI in 1970 | 38.800 |

CPI in 2019 | 255.658 |

Inflation in 1970 | 5.72% |

Inflation in 2019 | 1.76% |

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $20 in 1970 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $20, you would need to end with $131.78 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $20 is equivalent to $131.78 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 1970 dollars, the chart below shows how $20 buys less over the past 49 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:

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1970 to 2019 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $20):

**San Francisco, California**: 4.30% average rate, $20 → $157.04, cumulative change of 685.20%**Seattle, Washington**: 4.18% average rate, $20 → $148.95, cumulative change of 644.76%**Boston, Massachusetts**: 4.06% average rate, $20 → $140.60, cumulative change of 602.98%**New York**: 3.98% average rate, $20 → $135.20, cumulative change of 575.98%**Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas**: 3.84% average rate, $20 → $126.87, cumulative change of 534.33%**Atlanta, Georgia**: 3.84% average rate, $20 → $126.56, cumulative change of 532.81%**Houston, Texas**: 3.83% average rate, $20 → $126.12, cumulative change of 530.60%**Philadelphia, Pennsylvania**: 3.82% average rate, $20 → $125.79, cumulative change of 528.97%**Chicago, Illinois**: 3.79% average rate, $20 → $123.95, cumulative change of 519.74%**Detroit, Michigan**: 3.71% average rate, $20 → $119.07, cumulative change of 495.36%

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 49 years between 1970 and 2019 (4.30%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 49 years between 1970 and 2019 (3.71%).

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 £20.00 in 1970 would be equivalent to £306.82 in 2019, an absolute change of £286.82 and a cumulative change of 1,434.09%.

In Canada, CA$20.00 in 1970 would be equivalent to CA$131.43 in 2019, an absolute change of CA$111.43 and a cumulative change of 557.14%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $111.78 and total percent change of 558.91%.

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 1970 and 2019.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.92% per year:

Category | Avg Inflation (%) | Total Inflation (%) | $20 in 1970 → 2019 |
---|---|---|---|

Food and beverages | 3.87 | 543.03 | 128.61 |

Housing | 4.14 | 631.30 | 146.26 |

Apparel | 1.52 | 109.63 | 41.93 |

Transportation | 3.58 | 460.30 | 112.06 |

Medical care | 5.64 | 1,367.78 | 293.56 |

Recreation | 1.10 | 70.62 | 34.12 |

Education and communication | 1.85 | 145.43 | 49.09 |

Other goods and services | 5.02 | 1,001.58 | 220.32 |

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 1970. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2019CPI in 1970

×

1970 USD value

=

2019 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 38.8 in the year 1970 and 255.6575 in 2019:

255.657538.8

×

$20

=

$20 in 1970 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $131.78 in 2019.

To get the total inflation rate for the 49 years between 1970 and 2019, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2019 - CPI in 1970CPI in 1970

×

100

=

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

255.6575 - 38.838.8

×

100

=

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 3.88% per year between 1970 and 2019 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.92%), for an inflation total of 544.76%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $20 in 1970 is equivalent in buying power to $128.95 in 2019, a difference of $108.95. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $131.78 with a difference of $111.78.

In 1970, core inflation was 6.25%.

The average inflation rate of 3.92% has a compounding effect between 1970 and 2019. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 558.91% over 49 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $20 in the S&P 500 index in 1970, our investment would be * nominally* worth approximately $2,975.00 in 2019. This is a return on investment of 14,775.01%, with an absolute return of $2,955.00 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 84.82% of returns ($2,523.50) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted * real* return of our $20 investment is $431.50. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $367 for most people.

Original Amount | Final Amount | Change | |
---|---|---|---|

Nominal |
$20 | $2,975.00 | 14,775.01% |

RealInflation Adjusted |
$20 | $451.50 | 2,157.51% |

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 1970 to latest available data for 2019 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1970 and 2019, see the stock market returns calculator.

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

- January 1st, 1970 established as Epoch time for UNIX systems.
- Rhodesia declares independence and sets up a republican government.
- Aswan Dam opens in Egypt to prevent flooding of the Nile River.
- A Palestinian terrorist organization hijacks three aircrafts in an incident that is later known as Black September.

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: “$20 in 1970 → 2019 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 28 Jan. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/1970-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.

Cumulative price change | 558.91% |

Average inflation rate | 3.92% |

Converted amount ($20 base) | $131.78 |

Price difference ($20 base) | $111.78 |

CPI in 1970 | 38.800 |

CPI in 2019 | 255.658 |

Inflation in 1970 | 5.72% |

Inflation in 2019 | 1.76% |