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\$1,000,000,000 in 1938 → \$18,225,106,382.98 in 2020

U.S. Inflation Rate, \$1,000,000,000 in 1938 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 1,722.51% higher than average prices since 1938. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.60% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, \$1,000,000,000 in 1938 is equivalent in purchasing power to about \$18,225,106,382.98 in 2020, a difference of \$17,225,106,382.98 over 82 years.

The 1938 inflation rate was -2.08%. The current inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 2.29%1. If this number holds, \$1,000,000,000 today will be equivalent in buying power to \$1,022,851,297.40 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.

 Cumulative price change 1,722.51% Average inflation rate 3.60% Converted amount (\$1,000,000,000 base) \$18,225,106,382.98 Price difference (\$1,000,000,000 base) \$17,225,106,382.98 CPI in 1938 14.100 CPI in 2020 256.974 Inflation in 1938 -2.08% Inflation in 2020 2.29%

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

Buying power of \$1,000,000,000 in 1938

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for \$1,000,000,000 in 1938 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with \$1,000,000,000, you would need to end with \$18,225,106,382.98 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When \$1,000,000,000 is equivalent to \$18,225,106,382.98 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 1938 dollars, the chart below shows how \$1,000,000,000 buys less over the past 82 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
1938 \$1,000,000,000.00 -2.08%
1939 \$985,815,602.84 -1.42%
1940 \$992,907,801.42 0.72%
1941 \$1,042,553,191.49 5.00%
1942 \$1,156,028,368.79 10.88%
1943 \$1,226,950,354.61 6.13%
1944 \$1,248,226,950.35 1.73%
1945 \$1,276,595,744.68 2.27%
1946 \$1,382,978,723.40 8.33%
1947 \$1,581,560,283.69 14.36%
1948 \$1,709,219,858.16 8.07%
1949 \$1,687,943,262.41 -1.24%
1950 \$1,709,219,858.16 1.26%
1951 \$1,843,971,631.21 7.88%
1952 \$1,879,432,624.11 1.92%
1953 \$1,893,617,021.28 0.75%
1954 \$1,907,801,418.44 0.75%
1955 \$1,900,709,219.86 -0.37%
1956 \$1,929,078,014.18 1.49%
1957 \$1,992,907,801.42 3.31%
1958 \$2,049,645,390.07 2.85%
1959 \$2,063,829,787.23 0.69%
1960 \$2,099,290,780.14 1.72%
1961 \$2,120,567,375.89 1.01%
1962 \$2,141,843,971.63 1.00%
1963 \$2,170,212,765.96 1.32%
1964 \$2,198,581,560.28 1.31%
1965 \$2,234,042,553.19 1.61%
1966 \$2,297,872,340.43 2.86%
1967 \$2,368,794,326.24 3.09%
1968 \$2,468,085,106.38 4.19%
1969 \$2,602,836,879.43 5.46%
1970 \$2,751,773,049.65 5.72%
1971 \$2,872,340,425.53 4.38%
1972 \$2,964,539,007.09 3.21%
1973 \$3,148,936,170.21 6.22%
1974 \$3,496,453,900.71 11.04%
1975 \$3,815,602,836.88 9.13%
1976 \$4,035,460,992.91 5.76%
1977 \$4,297,872,340.43 6.50%
1978 \$4,624,113,475.18 7.59%
1979 \$5,148,936,170.21 11.35%
1980 \$5,843,971,631.21 13.50%
1981 \$6,446,808,510.64 10.32%
1982 \$6,843,971,631.21 6.16%
1983 \$7,063,829,787.23 3.21%
1984 \$7,368,794,326.24 4.32%
1985 \$7,631,205,673.76 3.56%
1986 \$7,773,049,645.39 1.86%
1987 \$8,056,737,588.65 3.65%
1988 \$8,390,070,921.99 4.14%
1989 \$8,794,326,241.13 4.82%
1990 \$9,269,503,546.10 5.40%
1991 \$9,659,574,468.09 4.21%
1992 \$9,950,354,609.93 3.01%
1993 \$10,248,226,950.35 2.99%
1994 \$10,510,638,297.87 2.56%
1995 \$10,808,510,638.30 2.83%
1996 \$11,127,659,574.47 2.95%
1997 \$11,382,978,723.40 2.29%
1998 \$11,560,283,687.94 1.56%
1999 \$11,815,602,836.88 2.21%
2000 \$12,212,765,957.45 3.36%
2001 \$12,560,283,687.94 2.85%
2002 \$12,758,865,248.23 1.58%
2003 \$13,049,645,390.07 2.28%
2004 \$13,397,163,120.57 2.66%
2005 \$13,851,063,829.79 3.39%
2006 \$14,297,872,340.43 3.23%
2007 \$14,705,106,382.98 2.85%
2008 \$15,269,716,312.06 3.84%
2009 \$15,215,390,070.92 -0.36%
2010 \$15,464,964,539.01 1.64%
2011 \$15,953,120,567.38 3.16%
2012 \$16,283,262,411.35 2.07%
2013 \$16,521,773,049.65 1.46%
2014 \$16,789,787,234.04 1.62%
2015 \$16,809,716,312.06 0.12%
2016 \$17,021,773,049.65 1.26%
2017 \$17,384,397,163.12 2.13%
2018 \$17,817,730,496.45 2.49%
2019 \$18,131,737,588.65 1.76%
2020 \$18,225,106,382.98 0.51%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 76 more rows

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1938 to 2020 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of \$1,000,000,000):

• San Francisco, California: 3.95% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$22,969,759,740.26, cumulative change of 2,196.98%
• Seattle, Washington: 3.83% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$20,943,117,536.14, cumulative change of 1,994.31%
• Boston, Massachusetts: 3.74% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$19,559,309,871.79, cumulative change of 1,855.93%
• New York: 3.70% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$19,030,615,735.46, cumulative change of 1,803.06%
• Atlanta, Georgia: 3.61% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$17,631,509,661.84, cumulative change of 1,663.15%
• Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 3.61% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$17,622,783,505.15, cumulative change of 1,662.28%
• Chicago, Illinois: 3.58% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$17,237,450,863.61, cumulative change of 1,623.75%
• Houston, Texas: 3.57% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$17,188,553,537.88, cumulative change of 1,618.86%
• Detroit, Michigan: 3.50% average rate, \$1,000,000,000 → \$16,184,736,238.53, cumulative change of 1,518.47%

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 82 years between 1938 and 2020 (3.95%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 82 years between 1938 and 2020 (3.50%).

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 £1,000,000,000.00 in 1938 would be equivalent to £67,752,580,997.29 in 2020, an absolute change of £66,752,580,997.29 and a cumulative change of 6,675.26%.

In Canada, CA\$1,000,000,000.00 in 1938 would be equivalent to CA\$17,947,368,421.05 in 2020, an absolute change of CA\$16,947,368,421.05 and a cumulative change of 1,694.74%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of \$17,225,106,382.98 and total percent change of 1,722.51%.

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 1938 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.60% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) \$1,000,000,000 in 1938 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.92 2,234.90 23,348,996,853.25
Housing 4.23 2,896.26 29,962,554,801.90
Apparel 2.17 479.78 5,797,764,779.44
Transportation 3.34 1,384.92 14,849,165,736.30
Medical care 5.14 5,973.31 60,733,120,380.04
Recreation 1.10 144.52 2,445,177,888.76
Education and communication 1.85 349.30 4,492,974,309.80
Other goods and services 5.04 5,519.24 56,192,425,512.13

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 1938. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for \$1,000,000,000 since 1938

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2020CPI in 1938
×
1938 USD value
=
2020 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 14.1 in the year 1938 and 256.974 in 2020:

256.97414.1
×
\$1,000,000,000
=
\$18,225,106,382.98

\$1,000,000,000 in 1938 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as \$18,225,106,382.98 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 82 years between 1938 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1938CPI in 1938
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (82 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

256.974 - 14.114.1
×
100
=
1,723%

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

• Anthony Eden resigns as United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary after stating that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain has appeased Nazi Germany.
• Czechoslovakia is forced to give territory to Germany after the Treaty of Munich was signed by Hitler, Mussolini, Daladier and Chamberlain.
• Joseph Kennedy is named the 44th US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

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: “\$1,000,000,000 in 1938 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 23 Jan. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1938?amount=1000000000.