$20 in 1971 → $126.90 in 2020

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$20 in 1971 → $126.90 in 2020

U.S. Inflation Rate, $20 in 1971 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 534.50% higher than average prices since 1971. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.84% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $20 in 1971 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $126.90 in 2020, a difference of $106.90 over 49 years.

The 1971 inflation rate was 4.38%. The current inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 2.29%1. If this number holds, $20 today will be equivalent in buying power to $20.46 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1971 to 2020
Cumulative price change 534.50%
Average inflation rate 3.84%
Converted amount ($20 base) $126.90
Price difference ($20 base) $106.90
CPI in 1971 40.500
CPI in 2020 256.974
Inflation in 1971 4.38%
Inflation in 2020 2.29%

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

Buying power of $20 in 1971

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $20 in 1971 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $20, you would need to end with $126.90 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $20 is equivalent to $126.90 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 1971 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:

Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1971 $20.00 4.38%
1972 $20.64 3.21%
1973 $21.93 6.22%
1974 $24.35 11.04%
1975 $26.57 9.13%
1976 $28.10 5.76%
1977 $29.93 6.50%
1978 $32.20 7.59%
1979 $35.85 11.35%
1980 $40.69 13.50%
1981 $44.89 10.32%
1982 $47.65 6.16%
1983 $49.19 3.21%
1984 $51.31 4.32%
1985 $53.14 3.56%
1986 $54.12 1.86%
1987 $56.10 3.65%
1988 $58.42 4.14%
1989 $61.23 4.82%
1990 $64.54 5.40%
1991 $67.26 4.21%
1992 $69.28 3.01%
1993 $71.36 2.99%
1994 $73.19 2.56%
1995 $75.26 2.83%
1996 $77.48 2.95%
1997 $79.26 2.29%
1998 $80.49 1.56%
1999 $82.27 2.21%
2000 $85.04 3.36%
2001 $87.46 2.85%
2002 $88.84 1.58%
2003 $90.86 2.28%
2004 $93.28 2.66%
2005 $96.44 3.39%
2006 $99.56 3.23%
2007 $102.39 2.85%
2008 $106.32 3.84%
2009 $105.94 -0.36%
2010 $107.68 1.64%
2011 $111.08 3.16%
2012 $113.38 2.07%
2013 $115.04 1.46%
2014 $116.91 1.62%
2015 $117.05 0.12%
2016 $118.52 1.26%
2017 $121.05 2.13%
2018 $124.06 2.49%
2019 $126.25 1.76%
2020 $126.90 0.51%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 43 more rows

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1971 to 2020 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $20):

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 49 years between 1971 and 2020 (4.31%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 49 years between 1971 and 2020 (3.71%).

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 1971 would be equivalent to £284.56 in 2020, an absolute change of £264.56 and a cumulative change of 1,322.80%.

In Canada, CA$20.00 in 1971 would be equivalent to CA$128.08 in 2020, an absolute change of CA$108.08 and a cumulative change of 540.38%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $106.90 and total percent change of 534.50%.


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 1971 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.84% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $20 in 1971 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.89 547.84 129.57
Housing 4.14 629.15 145.83
Apparel 1.49 106.07 41.21
Transportation 3.54 451.21 110.24
Medical care 5.62 1,356.94 291.39
Recreation 1.10 70.62 34.12
Education and communication 1.85 145.43 49.09
Other goods and services 5.02 1,004.57 220.91

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 1971. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $20 since 1971

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2020CPI in 1971
×
1971 USD value
=
2020 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 40.5 in the year 1971 and 256.974 in 2020:

256.97440.5
×
$20
=
$126.90

$20 in 1971 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $126.90 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 49 years between 1971 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1971CPI in 1971
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (49 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

256.974 - 40.540.5
×
100
=
535%

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 3.86% per year between 1971 and 2020 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.84%), for an inflation total of 515.86%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $20 in 1971 is equivalent in buying power to $123.17 in 2020, a difference of $103.17. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $126.90 with a difference of $106.90.

In 1971, core inflation was 4.69%.


News headlines from 1971

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

  • Idi Amin declares himself president of Uganda.
  • The Nasdaq Composite stock market index debuts with fifty companies and a starting value of 100.
  • Indian troops, aided by Bengali guerrillas under Mukti Bahini, are victorious over the Pakistan army, in the battle of Garibpur.

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 1971 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 27 Jan. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1971?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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Inflation from 1971 to 2020
Cumulative price change 534.50%
Average inflation rate 3.84%
Converted amount ($20 base) $126.90
Price difference ($20 base) $106.90
CPI in 1971 40.500
CPI in 2020 256.974
Inflation in 1971 4.38%
Inflation in 2020 2.29%