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by Robert Sahr
|Inflation Conversion Factors for Dollars 1774 to Estimated 2019||Download Conversion Factors|
|Individual Year Conversion Factor Tables|
|Visual Displays of Inflation Data|
|Price Levels and the US Economy||Millionaires Then and Now|
|Pay of Presidents and Members of Congress||Selected US National Government-Related Items|
|Presidential Election Costs in Current and Constant (2002) dollars, 1860 to 2000 and Value of 1974 Contribution Limits||National Government Budget|
|Selected Commodity Prices||Budget Details|
|Social Security and Medicare||Net Interest and Medicaid|
|Health Care||Social Insurance and Public Assistance|
|Differences between early-year and final inflation estimates for recent years|
|Additional information about the data on this page||Planned changes|
For some of the charts, users of Firefox and other non-Internet Explorer web browsers might have to use the “open link target in IE” option or equivalent. I will work to correct this difficulty in the next revision.
Updated June 4, 2009 to reflect the final 2008 Consumer Price Index and updated spring 2009 inflation estimates 2009 to 2019 by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). All tables have been revised, but most graphs have not yet been revised.
Consumer Price Index (CPI) conversion factors to determine the value of dollars of 1774 to estimated 2019 in dollars of 2009 (estimated), 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, CPI (1982-84), and two special CPI measures, CPI-U-X1 (starting 1950), and CPI-U-RS (starting 1947).
To ease understanding of the value of dollar figures over time, the materials on this page “re-base” the official CPI from its current base (1982-84 average = 1.000) to dollars of more recent years (for example, 2008 = 1.000).
The average CPI for 2008, 2.15303 (alternately expressed as 215.303), was used to produce conversion factors to dollars of 2008.
All inflation conversion factors use year-to-year inflation, not December-to-December inflation. Final 2008 price level data are from Table 1A in the Bureau of Labor Statistics publication Consumer Price Index: December 2008, available from the BLS web site (http://stats.bls.gov/cpi/).
Inflation assumptions: These assumptions are the average for each year of inflation estimates by the OMB and the CBO, as of late spring 2009. (Note: These inflation estimates differ from those published early in 2009 because the CBO revised its earlier inflation estimates in March 2009.)
Inflation conversion factors for 2009 and later years assume inflation of -0.65% in 2009 (slight deflation), 1.50% in 2010 and 2011; 1.60% in 2012; and 1.65% each year 2013 to 2019. The OMB and CBO will provide updated inflation estimates about February 2010.
Excel file with column-format conversion factors 1774 to estimated 2019 (revised to reflect final 2008 CPI): CPI (1982-84 Dollars), 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 (final), estimated 2009, CPI-U-X1 (2008 dollars), and CPI-U-RS (an experimental measure, using 2008 dollars, and updated CPI-U-RS data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics). This file provides both conversion factors for each of those inflation measures and also inflation rates using CPI-U for years starting 1774, CPI-U-RS for years starting 1947, and CPI-U-X1 for years starting 1950.
For ease of printing, the Excel file is available also in pdf format: Conversion factors 1774 to estimated 2019 (pdf format) (revised to reflect final 2008 CPI.)
Data prior to 1913 are estimates; data for 1913 to the present involve data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though the specific methods of data collection have changed during that period. Use special caution concerning data prior to 1913.
I strongly recommended that all dollar figures using these conversion factors for years prior to 1913 be rounded, e.g., $14,663 becomes $14,700, and preferably—especially for early years—to $15,000. Similarly, round dollars derived for years 1913 to the present to, for example, $14,660.
Stating dollar figure conversions in dollars and cents nearly always suggests more precision than the data allow.
(All have been revised to reflect final 2008 CPI data and early 2009 inflation estimates from the OMB and CBO)
Conversion factor tables are available as Portable Document Format (pdf) files and also in Excel format, for direct use in conversion. The tables of conversion factors below cover the period 1774 to estimated 2019.
I base 2008 conversion factors on the final 2008 CPI. (Suggestion: Use 2008 (final) conversion factors unless 2009 estimates are essential. As noted in the Differences between early-year and final inflation estimates for recent years section, final conversion factors in recent years have differed significantly from estimated conversion factors early in the year.)
Reminder...All the following have been revised to reflect final 2008 CPI. I recommend using final 2008 conversion factors rather than estimated conversion factors for 2009 unless 2009 dollars are essential.
Original data for the CPI-U-RS are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Reminder: Conversion factors for years prior to 1913 should be considered to be estimates. In addition, CPI measures have changed over time, so data for the entire period are not precisely comparable. Note that conversion factors that apply the post-1982 CPI to the period 1950 to 1982 are available above as the CPI-U-X1, in 2007 dollars.
From the main Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI page, many data are available, including a complete table of monthly CPI-U data with semi-annual and annual changes from 1913 to the present.
(except as specifically noted, these have NOT yet been revised to reflect final 2008 CPI data. Those that have been revised are labeled “[revised (and year)]”)
Except as noted, these graphs print best in “landscape” (horizontal, wide) print format.
The charts on the following topics are available either by scrolling down or by selecting the appropriate link:
All the graphs in each set of graphs have been assembled into pdf files to facilitate saving and printing.
Regarding the size of the US economy, see also Economic History Net
Summary pdf file with all charts in this price level and economy section
Total spending by both parties in presidential election campaigns 1860 to 2000, in current and constant (2002) dollars
Spending by Republican and Democratic parties in presidential election campaigns 1860 to 2000, in constant (2002) dollars
Value Needed to Equal Campaign Contribution Limits of 1974 in Inflation-Adjusted Dollars of Each Year 1975 to 2003
Inflation-adjusted Value of 1974 Campaign Contribution Limits Each Year 1975 to 2003
Summary pdf file with all charts in this presidential election costs and campaign contribution limits section
Outlays (Spending), Revenue, Deficits or Surpluses, and National Debt
Note that the inflation conversion factors are based on calendar year rather than national government budget year (fiscal year, often abbreviated FY). Because this applies to all years, no distortions should result from the minor divergence. The national government budget year begins October 1 and is named after the calendar year in which it ends. Until 1976 the national government budget year began July 1. (The period July 1 to September 30, 1976 is called the “transitional quarter,” generally abbreviated TQ.)
Price of Gasoline 1950 to 2008, in Current and Constant (2008) Cents [pdf file] Revised June 2009, using June 1, 2009 price data and estimated 2009 dollar conversion factors. As noted in the graph, in order to pass the 1981 price per gallon peak, the average gasoline price for 2009 must exceed $3.26 (assuming slight deflation [-0.8%] in 2009). Inflation might be higher in 2009 than early 2009 estimates, which would require a somewhat higher yearly average gasoline price in 2009 to exceed the 1981 inflation-adjusted price.
Price of Gold 1786 to 2005, in Current and Constant (2004) Dollars
Regarding the price of gold, several series, starting 1257, see also the Economic History Net
The following sections show national government spending for the “Big 5” items (Social Security, defense, net interest, Medicare, and Medicaid) and selected other components of the national government budget in the following details:
(1) Outlays in current and constant (2002) dollars 1940 to estimated 2008;
(2) Year-by-year changes in outlays in constant (2002) dollars and, in most instances, as percent of outlays and as percent of mandatory or discretionary outlays (the division of national government outlays into “mandatory” and “discretionary” categories began with the 1962 budget year; discretionary spending is that part of the budget controlled through yearly appropriation bills of president and Congress); and
(3) changes in outlays by presidential term, 1940 to estimated 2004.
The current-dollar (non-inflation-adjusted) data for most of these tables are drawn from Budget of the United States Historical Tables, which is available here. (Data from the 2010 Budget are available here and will be used in revising these graphs.) The Congressional Budget Office Budget and Economic Outlook also will be used, available at the CBO web site.
(The largest general fund—also called “federal fund”—budget category, paid from general revenues, not trust funds); in recent years it is the second largest category (after Social Security) of national government spending; with additional spending added in future years, national defense might again become the largest category
(Trust fund items, paid by “contributions,” which are “pigeon-holed” for these programs); in recent years Social Security is the largest category of national government spending and Medicare usually is the third largest
(Both are federal fund budget items, paid from general revenues, not trust funds); in recent years net interest is the fourth or fifth largest category of national government spending, alternating with Medicaid
(Includes both trust funds [Medicare] and Federal Funds [Medicaid and others])
(Includes both trust fund and federal fund items)
Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), changed to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) by 1996 legislation, and Food Stamps (both are federal fund items, paid from federal funds; each is about 1 percent of national government outlays); AFDC-TANF usually is labeled as the main national government “welfare” program
In contrast to some earlier years, inflation in both 2008 and 2007 differed significantly from estimates earlier in those years. That is, the final conversion factors for those years differ significantly from those estimated early in 2007 and 2008, based on the average of OMB and CBO inflation early in each year.
The estimated conversion factors for 2008, produced in February that year, assumed 2008 inflation of 2.8%. Actual 2008 inflation was 3.8%. The estimated conversion factors for 2007, produced in February of that year, assumed 2.0 percent inflation. Actual 2007 inflation was 2.85 percent.
In contrast to those two years, inflation in 2006 was almost exactly what had been estimated early 2006 using the average of OMB and CBO early-2006 estimates. Inflation for 2006 estimated February 2006 was 3.2 percent. The actual (final) 2006 inflation was 3.23%, which rounds to 3.2 percent inflation, which is the degree of rounding used to produce these conversion factors. As a result, the final conversion factors differed insignificantly from those estimated early in 2006. This contrasts with early 2005 estimates of inflation for that year to be 2.4%, much lower than the actual 3.4%. The same occurred in 2004. The average of OMB and CBO estimates of 2004 inflation early in 2004 was 1.5%. Actual 2004 inflation was 2.7%.
As noted above, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) changed its 2009 inflation estimate between January and March 2009, from 0.1% (very slight inflation) in January to -0.70% (modest deflation) in March.
Instructions about how to produce conversion factors for any base year are available here. This might be useful for anyone who needs to produce dollars for a base year not shown here, for example, dollars of 1928 (that is, 1928 = 1.000). The calculation process to produce conversion factors using the year 1928 as the base is shown here .
Conversion factors for the years 1913 and later use CPI-U data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Prior to the 2008 revision, conversion factors used price-level data from John J. McCusker and colleagues for the period 1665 to 1912. McCusker's offprint How Much Is That In Real Money?, revised 2001 (ISBN 1-929545-01-1) is available from the American Antiquarian Society for $15 plus shipping and handling through their web site.
Additional comments about planned changes to this page, inflation conversion factors, and related topics
Beginning summer 2009 I will revise graphs that use these conversion factors (available in the GRAPHS section), using the final 2008 CPI. I also will update budget trend graphs to include final 2008 budget data. However, unlike some previous versions of this page, estimates for years after the current budget year will not be included.
Beginning with the 2008 revision, I have used a new set of underlying price-level data to produce inflation conversion factors for years prior to 1913. Conversion factors for years before 1913 now are re-based from data from the Historical Statistics of the United States Millennial Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2006). As part of this change, the conversion factors begin 1774 instead of 1665, as with the earlier underlying price level data.
Note to users of Firefox and other non-Internet-Explorer web browsers: In forthcoming revisions, I will attempt to make all graphs accessible to users of non-Internet-Explorer browsers. In the interim, users of Firefox and other browsers who have difficulty viewing items on this page can open pages using the “view this item in IE” or similar.
The Excel and pdf files on this page should be accessible to users of all web browsers.