CPI Inflation Calculator

This CPI Inflation Calculator from the BLS calculates and then shows how the value or buying power of the US dollar has changed over time. It does this by taking the dollar amount and adjusting it inflation. (Read how it works.) To begin, enter a dollar amount and then select two different years for a comparison.

How To Use
CPI Inflation Calculator
1. Enter the Dollar Amount 3. Select the Ending Year
2. Select the Starting Year 4. Click the ‘Calculate’ button

How the CPI Inflation Calculator Works

The CPI Inflation Calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from selected dates to calculate the change in the buying power of the US dollar.

Consumer Price Index data is released monthly by the US government and dates back to 1913. The CPI measures the change in prices of goods and services for consumers. This consumer pricing information is gathered by the BLS from 26 metropolitan areas. Prices tracked include over 180 categories that are grouped by the BLS into 8 major groups. The groups and some of the categories within them include:

  • Food and beverages (ham, eggs, carbonated drinks, coffee, meals and snacks);
  • Housing (rent of primary residence, fuel oil, bedroom furniture);
  • Apparel (men’s shirts and sweaters, women’s dresses, jewelry);
  • Transportation (new vehicles, gasoline, tires, airline fares);
  • Medical care (prescription drugs and medical supplies, physicians’ services, eyeglasses and eye care, hospital services);
  • Recreation (television sets, cable TV, pets and pet products, sports equipment, admissions);
  • Education and communication (college tuition, postage, telephone services, computer software and accessories);
  • Other goods and services (tobacco and smoking products, haircuts and other personal care services, funeral expenses).

The collection of consumer prices is compiled and compared to determine where inflation stands from one month to the next.

Data used by the CPI Inflation Calculator, and therefore its results, is current through to the date listed in the inflation rate box to the upper right of this site. The BLS publishes its CPI data for a month about two week (sometimes three) after it has ended. For example, CPI inflation data for January 2013 was released to the public on February 21, 2013.

An Example

Assume that in year 2000 you paid $10 for a certain item and you want to know its inflation adjusted price in 2012.

Using the CPI Inflation Calculator, you enter the amount in dollars and select the two dates. Clicking the ‘Calculate’ button produces the result of $13.33. Here is how that result was calculated:

Looking at the CPI tables published by the BLS, the average CPI in 2000 was 172.2 and the average CPI in 2012 was 229.6

The inflation rate is calculated between the dates using the two CPI numbers. The rate of increase turns out to be 33.3%. Here’s the formula:

(2012 CPI – 2000 CPI) ÷ (2000 CPI) x 100

A 33.3% increase of $10 calculates to $13.33.


Consumer Prices, Inflation Reports & Calculators