Inflation Conversion Chart

Are you tired of people saying things like, "I remember when you could buy a house for 100 dollars, and cars were 5 dollars?" Do you always want to say something like, "Yeah, but you worked for 2 dollars a month, and besides you have to adjust the price for inflation," but you never had the data to challenge them? Well, now you do. I have used the Consumer Price Index numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to create this conversion chart.

How does it work?

Say, for example, that your grandfather is spouting-off about how a Coke was 5 cents when he was growing up, and now look at what they cost. If he was a kid in 1940, look-up the conversion factor in the chart below, which is 17.240. Now, simply multiply 5 cents by this conversion factor, and the price in today's dollars would be 86.2 cents. That's $10.34 for a 12-pack (probably 6.5 oz. bottles, too). I can get a 12-pack of Coke (in 12 oz. cans) for $5.95 any day of the week, less on sale. Those 5-cent Cokes don't look too impressive now, do they?

You could do it the other way. Say you want to know what $20 today would have bought in 1940. Take 20 and divide by 17.240 and you get 1.16, so $20.00 in 2016 dollars equals $1.16 in 1940 dollars.

If this is too confusing, you can use the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Inflation Calculator.

So, have fun, amaze your friends, annoy your neighbors, but remember this is only an exhibition, this is not a competition, please no wagering.


Year   Factor      Year   Factor      Year   Factor      Year   Factor
1913   24.379      1939   17.364      1965    7.662      1991    1.772
1914   24.135      1940   17.240      1966    7.449      1992    1.720
1915   23.896      1941   16.419      1967    7.226      1993    1.670
1916   22.142      1942   14.807      1968    6.935      1994    1.629
1917   18.856      1943   13.951      1969    6.576      1995    1.584
1918   15.984      1944   13.713      1970    6.220      1996    1.538
1919   13.951      1945   13.409      1971    5.959      1997    1.504
1920   12.068      1946   12.377      1972    5.774      1998    1.481
1921   13.483      1947   10.823      1973    5.436      1999    1.449
1922   14.366      1948   10.015      1974    4.896      2000    1.402
1923   14.114      1949   10.141      1975    4.486      2001    1.363
1924   14.114      1950   10.015      1976    4.242      2002    1.342
1925   13.792      1951    9.283      1977    3.983      2003    1.312
1926   13.636      1952    9.108      1978    3.702      2004    1.278
1927   13.871      1953    9.039      1979    3.324      2005    1.236
1928   14.114      1954    8.972      1980    2.929      2006    1.197
1929   14.114      1955    9.006      1981    2.655      2007    1.164
1930   14.452      1956    8.873      1982    2.501      2008    1.121
1931   15.878      1957    8.589      1983    2.423      2009    1.125
1932   17.617      1958    8.351      1984    2.323      2010    1.107
1933   18.566      1959    8.294      1985    2.243      2011    1.073
1934   18.011      1960    8.154      1986    2.202      2012    1.051
1935   17.617      1961    8.072      1987    2.125      2013    1.036
1936   17.364      1962    7.992      1988    2.040      2014    1.020
1937   16.761      1963    7.887      1989    1.946      2015    1.018
1938   17.117      1964    7.786      1990    1.847
Data current as of November, 2016

How I arrived at these numbers

The numbers I use are CPI-U (1982-1984=100), series CUUR0000SA0, and here's the page that I use to extract the data. I use the annual CPI for each year. This yields a chart like that below.
Year     CPI       Year     CPI       Year     CPI       Year     CPI
1913      9.9      1939     13.9      1965     31.5      1991    136.2
1914     10.0      1940     14.0      1966     32.4      1992    140.3
1915     10.1      1941     14.7      1967     33.4      1993    144.5
1916     10.9      1942     16.3      1968     34.8      1994    148.2
1917     12.8      1943     17.3      1969     36.7      1995    152.4
1918     15.1      1944     17.6      1970     38.8      1996    156.9
1919     17.3      1945     18.0      1971     40.5      1997    160.5
1920     20.0      1946     19.5      1972     41.8      1998    163.0
1921     17.9      1947     22.3      1973     44.4      1999    166.6
1922     16.8      1948     24.1      1974     49.3      2000    172.2
1923     17.1      1949     23.8      1975     53.8      2001    177.1
1924     17.1      1950     24.1      1976     56.9      2002    179.9
1925     17.5      1951     26.0      1977     60.6      2003    184.0
1926     17.7      1952     26.5      1978     65.2      2004    188.9
1927     17.4      1953     26.7      1979     72.6      2005    195.3
1928     17.1      1954     26.9      1980     82.4      2006    201.6
1929     17.1      1955     26.8      1981     90.9      2007    207.3
1930     16.7      1956     27.2      1982     96.5      2008    215.3
1931     15.2      1957     28.1      1983     99.6      2009    214.5
1932     13.7      1958     28.9      1984    103.9      2010    218.1
1933     13.0      1959     29.1      1985    107.6      2011    224.9
1934     13.4      1960     29.6      1986    109.6      2012    229.6
1935     13.7      1961     29.9      1987    113.6      2013    233.0
1936     13.9      1962     30.2      1988    118.3      2014    236.7
1937     14.4      1963     30.6      1989    124.0      2015    237.0
1938     14.1      1964     31.0      1990    130.7
Then I take the current CPI (for November, 2016 it's 241.353) and divide that number by all of the CPIs to get the conversion factors in the chart at the top of the page. That's all there is to it. I acknowledge that there may be some flaws in this methodology, but we're just trying to have fun, not get to the moon. More information can be had at The CPI Home Page.
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[US Flag] Written and copyright (c) 2017 by Eric Treankler
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Last modified: 17 JAN 2017

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