$20,000 in 1975 is worth $96,623.79 today

Value of $20,000 from 1975 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 383.12% higher than average prices since 1975. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.56% per year during this period, causing the real value of a dollar to decrease.

In other words, $20,000 in 1975 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $96,623.79 in 2020, a difference of $76,623.79 over 45 years.

The 1975 inflation rate was 9.13%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 1.31%1. If this number holds, $20,000 today will be equivalent in buying power to $20,261.93 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1975 to 2020
Cumulative price change 383.12%
Average inflation rate 3.56%
Converted amount ($20,000 base) $96,623.79
Price difference ($20,000 base) $76,623.79
CPI in 1975 53.800
CPI in 2020 259.918
Inflation in 1975 9.13%
Inflation in 2020 1.31%

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

Buying power of $20,000 in 1975

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $20,000 in 1975 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $20,000, you would need to end with $96,623.79 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $20,000 is equivalent to $96,623.79 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 1975 dollars, the chart below shows how $20,000 is worth less over 45 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:

Dollar inflation: 1975-2020
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1975 $20,000.00 9.13%
1976 $21,152.42 5.76%
1977 $22,527.88 6.50%
1978 $24,237.92 7.59%
1979 $26,988.85 11.35%
1980 $30,631.97 13.50%
1981 $33,791.82 10.32%
1982 $35,873.61 6.16%
1983 $37,026.02 3.21%
1984 $38,624.54 4.32%
1985 $40,000.00 3.56%
1986 $40,743.49 1.86%
1987 $42,230.48 3.65%
1988 $43,977.70 4.14%
1989 $46,096.65 4.82%
1990 $48,587.36 5.40%
1991 $50,631.97 4.21%
1992 $52,156.13 3.01%
1993 $53,717.47 2.99%
1994 $55,092.94 2.56%
1995 $56,654.28 2.83%
1996 $58,327.14 2.95%
1997 $59,665.43 2.29%
1998 $60,594.80 1.56%
1999 $61,933.09 2.21%
2000 $64,014.87 3.36%
2001 $65,836.43 2.85%
2002 $66,877.32 1.58%
2003 $68,401.49 2.28%
2004 $70,223.05 2.66%
2005 $72,602.23 3.39%
2006 $74,944.24 3.23%
2007 $77,078.81 2.85%
2008 $80,038.29 3.84%
2009 $79,753.53 -0.36%
2010 $81,061.71 1.64%
2011 $83,620.45 3.16%
2012 $85,350.93 2.07%
2013 $86,601.12 1.46%
2014 $88,005.95 1.62%
2015 $88,110.41 0.12%
2016 $89,221.93 1.26%
2017 $91,122.68 2.13%
2018 $93,394.05 2.49%
2019 $95,039.96 1.76%
2020 $96,623.79 1.67%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 39 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1975 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 383.12% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a dollar today
Initial value Equivalent value
$1 dollar in 1975 $4.83 dollars today
$5 dollars in 1975 $24.16 dollars today
$10 dollars in 1975 $48.31 dollars today
$50 dollars in 1975 $241.56 dollars today
$100 dollars in 1975 $483.12 dollars today
$500 dollars in 1975 $2,415.59 dollars today
$1,000 dollars in 1975 $4,831.19 dollars today
$5,000 dollars in 1975 $24,155.95 dollars today
$10,000 dollars in 1975 $48,311.90 dollars today
$50,000 dollars in 1975 $241,559.48 dollars today
$100,000 dollars in 1975 $483,118.96 dollars today
$500,000 dollars in 1975 $2,415,594.80 dollars today
$1,000,000 dollars in 1975 $4,831,189.59 dollars today

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1975 to 2020 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $20,000):

  • San Francisco, California: 3.99% average rate, $20,000 → $116,380.40, cumulative change of 481.90%
  • Seattle, Washington: 3.88% average rate, $20,000 → $110,808.76, cumulative change of 454.04%
  • Boston, Massachusetts: 3.70% average rate, $20,000 → $102,762.38, cumulative change of 413.81%
  • New York: 3.60% average rate, $20,000 → $98,020.63, cumulative change of 390.10%
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas: 3.52% average rate, $20,000 → $95,036.15, cumulative change of 375.18%
  • Chicago, Illinois: 3.46% average rate, $20,000 → $92,256.23, cumulative change of 361.28%
  • Atlanta, Georgia: 3.45% average rate, $20,000 → $91,964.64, cumulative change of 359.82%
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 3.42% average rate, $20,000 → $90,845.41, cumulative change of 354.23%
  • Houston, Texas: 3.39% average rate, $20,000 → $89,462.18, cumulative change of 347.31%
  • Detroit, Michigan: 3.34% average rate, $20,000 → $87,801.52, cumulative change of 339.01%

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 45 years between 1975 and 2020 (3.99%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 45 years between 1975 and 2020 (3.34%).

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 £20,000.00 in 1975 would be equivalent to £168,878.84 in 2020, an absolute change of £148,878.84 and a cumulative change of 744.39%.

In Canada, CA$20,000.00 in 1975 would be equivalent to CA$90,331.13 in 2020, an absolute change of CA$70,331.13 and a cumulative change of 351.66%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $76,623.79 and total percent change of 383.12%.


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. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1975 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.56% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $20,000 in 1975 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.35 340.98 88,196.26
Housing 3.80 434.98 106,995.87
Apparel 1.10 63.29 32,657.95
Transportation 3.13 300.16 80,031.04
Medical care 5.45 989.98 217,996.19
Recreation 1.10 63.32 32,663.12
Education and communication 1.84 126.79 45,358.85
Other goods and services 4.89 755.34 171,068.55

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 1975. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $20,000 since 1975

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1975 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1975
×
1975 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 53.8 in the year 1975 and 259.918 in 2020:

259.91853.8
×
$20,000
=
$96,623.79

$20,000 in 1975 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $96,623.79 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 45 years between 1975 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1975CPI in 1975
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (45 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

259.918 - 53.853.8
×
100
=
383%

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 3.62% per year between 1975 and 2020 (vs all-CPI inflation of 3.56%), for an inflation total of 395.25%.

When using the core inflation measurement, $20,000 in 1975 is equivalent in buying power to $99,050.92 in 2020, a difference of $79,050.92. Recall that for All Items, the converted amount is $96,623.79 with a difference of $76,623.79.

In 1975, core inflation was 9.21%.


Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 3.56% has a compounding effect between 1975 and 2020. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 383.12% over 45 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $20,000 in the S&P 500 index in 1975, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $3,269,939.97 in 2020. This is a return on investment of 16,249.70%, with an absolute return of $3,249,939.97 on top of the original $20,000.

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 79.30% of returns ($2,593,100.47) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $20,000 investment is $656,839.51. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around $558,314 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1975-2020
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $20,000 $3,269,939.97 16,249.70%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$20,000 $676,839.51 3,284.20%

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 1975 to latest available data for 2020 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1975 and 2020, see the stock market returns calculator.


News headlines from 1975

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

  • Margaret Thatcher becomes leader of the British Conservative Party, after defeating Edward Heath.
  • Ethiopia abrogates its 3,000-year-old monarchy.
  • Bill Gates and Paul Allen found Microsoft.
  • The US signals the beginning of the end of its involvement Vietnam, after it begins to evacuate its citizens from Saigon.
  • Gough Whitlam is removed by Governor General Sir John Kerr: the first time an elected Prime Minister had been deposed in 200 years (Australia).

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: “$20,000 in 1975 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 21 Sep. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1975?amount=20000&endYear=2020.

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.

Email · LinkedIn · Twitter


» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1975 to 2020
Cumulative price change 383.12%
Average inflation rate 3.56%
Converted amount ($20,000 base) $96,623.79
Price difference ($20,000 base) $76,623.79
CPI in 1975 53.800
CPI in 2020 259.918
Inflation in 1975 9.13%
Inflation in 2020 1.31%