U.S. inflation rate in 1987: 3.65%

Inflation in 1987 and its effect on dollar value

$1 in 1986 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1.04 in 1987. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.65% per year between 1986 and 1987, producing a cumulative price increase of 3.65%. Purchasing power decreased by 3.65% in 1987 compared to 1986. On average, you would have to spend 3.65% more money in 1987 than in 1986 for the same item.

This means that prices in 1987 are 1.04 times higher than average prices since 1986, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index.

The inflation rate in 1986 was 1.86%. The inflation rate in 1987 was 3.65%. The 1987 inflation rate is higher compared to the average inflation rate of 2.65% per year between 1987 and 2021.

Inflation rate is calculated by change in the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI in 1987 was 113.60. It was 109.60 in the previous year, 1986. The difference in CPI between the years is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to officially determine inflation.

Inflation from 1986 to 1987
Average inflation rate 3.65%
Converted amount ($1 base) $1.04
Price difference ($1 base) $0.04
CPI in 1986 109.600
CPI in 1987 113.600
Inflation in 1986 1.86%
Inflation in 1987 3.65%
$1 in 1986 $1.04 in 1987

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

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1986 to 1987 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $1):

New York experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1986 and 1987 (5.05%).

Seattle, Washington experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 1 years between 1986 and 1987 (0.12%).

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 1986 would be equivalent to £1.04 in 1987, an absolute change of £0.04 and a cumulative change of 4.17%.

In Canada, CA$1.00 in 1986 would be equivalent to CA$1.04 in 1987, an absolute change of CA$0.04 and a cumulative change of 4.19%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $0.04 and total percent change of 3.65%.

Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. Breaking down these categories helps explain the main drivers behind price changes.

Between 1986 and 1987:

This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1986 and 1987.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.65% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1986 → 1987
Food and beverages 4.07 4.07 1.04
Housing 2.98 2.98 1.03
Apparel 4.40 4.40 1.04
Transportation 3.02 3.02 1.03
Medical care 6.64 6.64 1.07
Recreation 0.00 0.00 1.00
Education and communication 0.00 0.00 1.00
Other goods and services 5.82 5.82 1.06

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1986. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1, 1986 to 1987

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1986 and 1987:

CPI in 1987 CPI in 1986
1986 USD value
1987 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 109.6 in the year 1986 and 113.6 in 1987:


$1 in 1986 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $1.04 in 1987.

To get the total inflation rate for the 1 years between 1986 and 1987, we use the following formula:

CPI in 1987 - CPI in 1986CPI in 1986
Cumulative inflation rate (1 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

113.6 - 109.6109.6

Alternate Measurements of Inflation

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 4.12% per year between 1986 and 1987 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.65%), for an inflation total of 4.12%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $1 in 1986 is equivalent in buying power to $1.04 in 1987, a difference of $0.04. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $1.04 with a difference of $0.04.

In 1986, core inflation was 4.04%.

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $1 in the S&P 500 index in 1986, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $1.28 in 1987. This is a return on investment of 28.25%, with an absolute return of $0.28 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 3.52% of returns ($0.05) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1 investment is $0.24. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $0 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1986-1987
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $1 $1.28 28.25%
Inflation Adjusted
$1 $1.24 23.74%

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 1986 to latest available data for 1987 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1986 and 1987, see the stock market returns calculator.

News headlines from 1986

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

  • Ferdinand Marcos becomes president of the Philippines after rigged elections.
  • 6.5 million People hold hands across the US in an event referred to as Hands Across America.
  • Doctors announce that the drug AZT will be available to AIDS patients.
  • Talks between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev begin at the Reykjavik summit.
  • Mrs. Davina Thompson receives the first heart, lung and liver transplant in Cambridge, England.

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: “Inflation Rate in 1987 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 6 Dec. 2021, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1987.

Special thanks to QuickChart for their chart image API, which is used for chart downloads.

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

Ian Webster

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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Inflation from 1986 to 1987
Average inflation rate 3.65%
Converted amount ($1 base) $1.04
Price difference ($1 base) $0.04
CPI in 1986 109.600
CPI in 1987 113.600
Inflation in 1986 1.86%
Inflation in 1987 3.65%
$1 in 1986 $1.04 in 1987