$1 in 1778 → $18.74 in 2020

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U.S. Inflation Rate, $1 from 1778 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 1,774.48% higher than average prices since 1778. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 1.22% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $1 in 1778 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $18.74 in 2020, a difference of $17.74 over 242 years.

The 1778 inflation rate was 30.19%. The current inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 2.33%1. If this number holds, $1 today will be equivalent in buying power to $1.02 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.


Inflation from 1778 to 2020
Cumulative price change 1,774.48%
Average inflation rate 1.22%
Converted amount ($1 base) $18.74
Price difference ($1 base) $17.74
CPI in 1778 13.800
CPI in 2020 258.678
Inflation in 1778 30.19%
Inflation in 2020 2.33%

USD Inflation since 1635
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $1 in 1778

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for $1 in 1778 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with $1, you would need to end with $18.74 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When $1 is equivalent to $18.74 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 1778 dollars, the chart below shows how $1 buys less over the past 242 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
1778 $1.00 30.19%
1779 $0.88 -11.59%
1780 $0.99 12.30%
1781 $0.80 -18.98%
1782 $0.88 9.01%
1783 $0.77 -12.40%
1784 $0.74 -3.77%
1785 $0.70 -4.90%
1786 $0.69 -2.06%
1787 $0.67 -2.11%
1788 $0.64 -4.30%
1789 $0.64 -1.12%
1790 $0.67 4.55%
1791 $0.68 2.17%
1792 $0.70 2.13%
1793 $0.72 3.13%
1794 $0.80 11.11%
1795 $0.91 14.55%
1796 $0.96 4.76%
1797 $0.92 -3.79%
1798 $0.89 -3.15%
1799 $0.89 0.00%
1800 $0.91 2.44%
1801 $0.92 0.79%
1802 $0.78 -15.75%
1803 $0.82 5.61%
1804 $0.86 4.42%
1805 $0.85 -0.85%
1806 $0.88 4.27%
1807 $0.84 -4.92%
1808 $0.91 8.62%
1809 $0.89 -2.38%
1810 $0.89 0.00%
1811 $0.95 6.50%
1812 $0.96 1.53%
1813 $1.16 20.30%
1814 $1.28 10.00%
1815 $1.12 -12.50%
1816 $1.02 -8.44%
1817 $0.96 -5.67%
1818 $0.92 -4.51%
1819 $0.92 0.00%
1820 $0.85 -7.87%
1821 $0.82 -3.42%
1822 $0.85 3.54%
1823 $0.76 -10.26%
1824 $0.70 -7.62%
1825 $0.72 2.06%
1826 $0.72 0.00%
1827 $0.72 1.01%
1828 $0.69 -5.00%
1829 $0.67 -2.11%
1830 $0.67 -1.08%
1831 $0.63 -5.43%
1832 $0.62 -1.15%
1833 $0.61 -2.33%
1834 $0.62 2.38%
1835 $0.64 2.33%
1836 $0.67 5.68%
1837 $0.70 3.23%
1838 $0.67 -3.12%
1839 $0.67 0.00%
1840 $0.63 -6.45%
1841 $0.63 0.00%
1842 $0.59 -5.75%
1843 $0.54 -9.76%
1844 $0.54 1.35%
1845 $0.55 1.33%
1846 $0.56 1.32%
1847 $0.59 6.49%
1848 $0.57 -3.66%
1849 $0.56 -2.53%
1850 $0.57 1.30%
1851 $0.56 -1.28%
1852 $0.56 0.00%
1853 $0.56 0.00%
1854 $0.61 9.09%
1855 $0.63 3.57%
1856 $0.62 -2.30%
1857 $0.63 2.35%
1858 $0.59 -5.75%
1859 $0.60 1.22%
1860 $0.60 0.00%
1861 $0.64 6.02%
1862 $0.73 14.77%
1863 $0.91 24.75%
1864 $1.14 24.60%
1865 $1.18 3.82%
1866 $1.15 -2.45%
1867 $1.07 -6.92%
1868 $1.03 -4.05%
1869 $0.99 -4.23%
1870 $0.95 -3.68%
1871 $0.88 -6.87%
1872 $0.88 0.00%
1873 $0.87 -1.64%
1874 $0.83 -5.00%
1875 $0.80 -3.51%
1876 $0.78 -2.73%
1877 $0.76 -1.87%
1878 $0.72 -4.76%
1879 $0.72 0.00%
1880 $0.74 2.00%
1881 $0.74 0.00%
1882 $0.74 0.00%
1883 $0.73 -0.98%
1884 $0.71 -2.97%
1885 $0.70 -1.02%
1886 $0.68 -3.09%
1887 $0.69 1.06%
1888 $0.69 0.00%
1889 $0.67 -3.16%
1890 $0.66 -1.09%
1891 $0.66 0.00%
1892 $0.66 0.00%
1893 $0.65 -1.10%
1894 $0.62 -4.44%
1895 $0.61 -2.33%
1896 $0.61 0.00%
1897 $0.60 -1.19%
1898 $0.60 0.00%
1899 $0.60 0.00%
1900 $0.61 1.20%
1901 $0.62 1.19%
1902 $0.62 1.18%
1903 $0.64 2.33%
1904 $0.64 1.14%
1905 $0.64 -1.12%
1906 $0.65 2.27%
1907 $0.68 4.44%
1908 $0.67 -2.13%
1909 $0.66 -1.09%
1910 $0.69 4.40%
1911 $0.69 0.00%
1912 $0.70 2.11%
1913 $0.72 2.06%
1914 $0.72 1.01%
1915 $0.73 1.00%
1916 $0.79 7.92%
1917 $0.93 17.43%
1918 $1.09 17.97%
1919 $1.25 14.57%
1920 $1.45 15.61%
1921 $1.30 -10.50%
1922 $1.22 -6.15%
1923 $1.24 1.79%
1924 $1.24 0.00%
1925 $1.27 2.34%
1926 $1.28 1.14%
1927 $1.26 -1.69%
1928 $1.24 -1.72%
1929 $1.24 0.00%
1930 $1.21 -2.34%
1931 $1.10 -8.98%
1932 $0.99 -9.87%
1933 $0.94 -5.11%
1934 $0.97 3.08%
1935 $0.99 2.24%
1936 $1.01 1.46%
1937 $1.04 3.60%
1938 $1.02 -2.08%
1939 $1.01 -1.42%
1940 $1.01 0.72%
1941 $1.07 5.00%
1942 $1.18 10.88%
1943 $1.25 6.13%
1944 $1.28 1.73%
1945 $1.30 2.27%
1946 $1.41 8.33%
1947 $1.62 14.36%
1948 $1.75 8.07%
1949 $1.72 -1.24%
1950 $1.75 1.26%
1951 $1.88 7.88%
1952 $1.92 1.92%
1953 $1.93 0.75%
1954 $1.95 0.75%
1955 $1.94 -0.37%
1956 $1.97 1.49%
1957 $2.04 3.31%
1958 $2.09 2.85%
1959 $2.11 0.69%
1960 $2.14 1.72%
1961 $2.17 1.01%
1962 $2.19 1.00%
1963 $2.22 1.32%
1964 $2.25 1.31%
1965 $2.28 1.61%
1966 $2.35 2.86%
1967 $2.42 3.09%
1968 $2.52 4.19%
1969 $2.66 5.46%
1970 $2.81 5.72%
1971 $2.93 4.38%
1972 $3.03 3.21%
1973 $3.22 6.22%
1974 $3.57 11.04%
1975 $3.90 9.13%
1976 $4.12 5.76%
1977 $4.39 6.50%
1978 $4.72 7.59%
1979 $5.26 11.35%
1980 $5.97 13.50%
1981 $6.59 10.32%
1982 $6.99 6.16%
1983 $7.22 3.21%
1984 $7.53 4.32%
1985 $7.80 3.56%
1986 $7.94 1.86%
1987 $8.23 3.65%
1988 $8.57 4.14%
1989 $8.99 4.82%
1990 $9.47 5.40%
1991 $9.87 4.21%
1992 $10.17 3.01%
1993 $10.47 2.99%
1994 $10.74 2.56%
1995 $11.04 2.83%
1996 $11.37 2.95%
1997 $11.63 2.29%
1998 $11.81 1.56%
1999 $12.07 2.21%
2000 $12.48 3.36%
2001 $12.83 2.85%
2002 $13.04 1.58%
2003 $13.33 2.28%
2004 $13.69 2.66%
2005 $14.15 3.39%
2006 $14.61 3.23%
2007 $15.02 2.85%
2008 $15.60 3.84%
2009 $15.55 -0.36%
2010 $15.80 1.64%
2011 $16.30 3.16%
2012 $16.64 2.07%
2013 $16.88 1.46%
2014 $17.15 1.62%
2015 $17.18 0.12%
2016 $17.39 1.26%
2017 $17.76 2.13%
2018 $18.21 2.49%
2019 $18.53 1.76%
2020 $18.74 1.18%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 236 more rows

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1.00 in 1778 would be equivalent to £160.32 in 2020, an absolute change of £159.32 and a cumulative change of 15,931.60%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $17.74 and total percent change of 1,774.48%.


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 1778 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 1.22% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1 in 1778 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.86 961,804.28 9,619.04
Housing 4.18 2,023,637.39 20,237.37
Apparel 1.99 11,662.29 117.62
Transportation 3.21 208,443.38 2,085.43
Medical care 5.10 16,959,625.83 169,597.26
Recreation 1.10 1,300.61 14.01
Education and communication 1.82 7,709.66 78.10
Other goods and services 4.97 12,627,668.79 126,277.69

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 1778. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1 since 1778

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2020CPI in 1778
×
1778 USD value
=
2020 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 13.8 in the year 1778 and 258.678 in 2020:

258.67813.8
×
$1
=
$18.74

$1 in 1778 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $18.74 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 242 years between 1778 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1778CPI in 1778
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (242 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

258.678 - 13.813.8
×
100
=
1,774%

News headlines from 1778

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

  • Discovery of Maui in Hawaii (then Sandwich Islands) by Captain James Cook
  • Louis XVI, King of France, declares war on Great Britain
  • First U.S. treaty is signed in Paris, meaning that the French officially recognise the U.S. as a nation.

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 in 1778 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 29 Mar. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1778?amount=1&startYear=&future_pct=.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.


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.

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» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1778 to 2020
Cumulative price change 1,774.48%
Average inflation rate 1.22%
Converted amount ($1 base) $18.74
Price difference ($1 base) $17.74
CPI in 1778 13.800
CPI in 2020 258.678
Inflation in 1778 30.19%
Inflation in 2020 2.33%