U.S. inflation rate in 1938: -2.08%

Inflation Calculator

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Inflation since 1938 and its effect on dollar value

The consumer price index (CPI) in 1938 was 14.1. It was 14.4 in the previous year. This change in CPI is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate inflation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, the dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.67% per year. Prices in 2018 are 1684.3% higher than prices in 1938.

In other words, $100 in 1938 is equivalent in purchasing power to $1,784.33 in 2018, a difference of $1,684.33 over 80 years.

The current inflation rate is now 2.80%1. If this number holds, $100 today will be equivalent to $102.80 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.

Inflation from 1938 to 2018
Cumulative price change 1684.33%
Average inflation rate 3.67%
Converted amount ($100 base) $1,784.33
Price difference ($100 base) $1,684.33
CPI in 1938 14.1
CPI in 2018 251.59


U.S. inflation from 1913 to 2018


Inflation rates for specific categories

Public transportation · Dental services · Housing · More

Inflation-adjusted measures

S&P 500 price · S&P 500 earnings · Shiller P/E

How to calculate the inflation rate for $100 since 1938

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2018 / CPI in 1938 * 1938 USD value = 2018 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 14.1 in the year 1938 and 251.59 in 2018:

251.59 / 14.1 * $100 = $1,784.33

$100 in 1938 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $1,784.33 in 2018.


Here are calculations of buying power over time for $100 in 1938 (price index tracking began in 1913). Each of these USD amounts below is equivalent in terms of what it could buy at the time:
Year USD Value Inflation Rate
1938 $100.00 -2.08%
1939 $98.58 -1.42%
1940 $99.29 0.72%
1941 $104.26 5.00%
1942 $115.60 10.88%
1943 $122.70 6.13%
1944 $124.82 1.73%
1945 $127.66 2.27%
1946 $138.30 8.33%
1947 $158.16 14.36%
1948 $170.92 8.07%
1949 $168.79 -1.24%
1950 $170.92 1.26%
1951 $184.40 7.88%
1952 $187.94 1.92%
1953 $189.36 0.75%
1954 $190.78 0.75%
1955 $190.07 -0.37%
1956 $192.91 1.49%
1957 $199.29 3.31%
1958 $204.96 2.85%
1959 $206.38 0.69%
1960 $209.93 1.72%
1961 $212.06 1.01%
1962 $214.18 1.00%
1963 $217.02 1.32%
1964 $219.86 1.31%
1965 $223.40 1.61%
1966 $229.79 2.86%
1967 $236.88 3.09%
1968 $246.81 4.19%
1969 $260.28 5.46%
1970 $275.18 5.72%
1971 $287.23 4.38%
1972 $296.45 3.21%
1973 $314.89 6.22%
1974 $349.65 11.04%
1975 $381.56 9.13%
1976 $403.55 5.76%
1977 $429.79 6.50%
1978 $462.41 7.59%
1979 $514.89 11.35%
1980 $584.40 13.50%
1981 $644.68 10.32%
1982 $684.40 6.16%
1983 $706.38 3.21%
1984 $736.88 4.32%
1985 $763.12 3.56%
1986 $777.30 1.86%
1987 $805.67 3.65%
1988 $839.01 4.14%
1989 $879.43 4.82%
1990 $926.95 5.40%
1991 $965.96 4.21%
1992 $995.04 3.01%
1993 $1,024.82 2.99%
1994 $1,051.06 2.56%
1995 $1,080.85 2.83%
1996 $1,112.77 2.95%
1997 $1,138.30 2.29%
1998 $1,156.03 1.56%
1999 $1,181.56 2.21%
2000 $1,221.28 3.36%
2001 $1,256.03 2.85%
2002 $1,275.89 1.58%
2003 $1,304.96 2.28%
2004 $1,339.72 2.66%
2005 $1,385.11 3.39%
2006 $1,429.79 3.23%
2007 $1,470.51 2.85%
2008 $1,526.97 3.84%
2009 $1,521.54 -0.36%
2010 $1,546.50 1.64%
2011 $1,595.31 3.16%
2012 $1,628.33 2.07%
2013 $1,652.18 1.46%
2014 $1,678.98 1.62%
2015 $1,680.97 0.12%
2016 $1,702.18 1.26%
2017 $1,736.07 1.99%
2018 $1,784.33 2.78%*
* Not final. See inflation summary for latest details.

News headlines from 1938

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.

Inflation Data Source

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 1938 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 21 Jun. 2018, https://www.officialdata.org/inflation-rate-in-1938.


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