#### See the results in a table format.

In 2017, the relative values of \$40,000.00 from 1860 ranges from \$915,000.00 to \$178,000,000.00.

A simple Purchasing Power Calculator would say the relative value is \$1,220,000.00. This answer is obtained by multiplying \$40000 by the percentage increase in the CPI from 1860 to 2017.

This may not be the best answer.

The best measure of the relative value over time depends on if you are interested in comparing the cost or value of a Commodity , Income or Wealth , or a Project.

If you want to compare the value of a \$40,000.00 Commodity in 1860 there are three choices. In 2017 the relative:
real price of that commodity is \$1,220,000.00
labor value of that commodity is \$7,860,000.00 (using the unskilled wage) or \$16,800,000.00 (using production worker compensation)
income value of that commodity is \$17,100,000.00
economic share of that commodity is \$178,000,000.00

If you want to compare the value of a \$40,000.00 Income or Wealth , in 1860 there are four choices. In 2017 the relative:

real wage or real wealth value of that income or wealth is \$1,220,000.00
relative labor earnings of that commodity are \$7,860,000.00 (using the unskilled wage) or \$16,800,000.00 (using production worker compensation)
relative income or wealth value of that income or wealth is \$17,100,000.00
relative output value of that income or wealth is \$178,000,000.00

If you want to compare the value of a \$40,000.00 Project in 1860 there are three choices. In 2017 the relative:

real cost of that project is \$915,000.00
labor cost of that project is \$7,860,000.00 (using the unskilled wage) or \$16,800,000.00 (using production worker compensation)
relative cost of that project is \$17,100,000.00
economy cost of that project is \$178,000,000.00

If you need help determining which result is most appropriate for you, check out the Tutorials or see Choosing the Best Measure of Relative Worth. For an in depth discussion, read the Measures of Worth essay.

 Send us feedback We would be happy to receive your feedback on this comparator. The link above will take you to a form where you can tell us the context of your question, what answer you are going to use and for what purpose. Please do not ask us what the best answer is as that is for you to choose based on what is the context of your question.

#### Citation

Samuel H. Williamson, "Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1790 to present," MeasuringWorth, .

URL: www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/

 Calculate another value What is the relative value of \$ from in ?
A Project is either an investment, such as construction of a canal or installation of a cable network; or a government expenditure, such as the financing of Medicare or a war. Also within this category are such items as the size of a government budget deficit, and the total assets or net worth of a company.
Income is a flow of earnings, while Wealth is a stock of assets. Earnings might be of a specific type of labor, such as a plumber or professional athlete, or the (average) earnings of a broad group of labor, such as unskilled workers. Wealth can be a financial asset such as bank deposits or a stock portfolio, or can involve a physical asset, such as real estate.
Commodities are (usually consumer) goods and services. Examples are bread, attending a rock concert, buying hamburgers, a visit to the dentist, and personal computers.
Economy Cost of a project is measured as the cost of the project as a percent of the output of the economy. This measure indicates the opportunity cost in terms of the total output of the economy. It can be interpreted as the importance of the item to society as a whole. This measure uses the share of GDP.
Labor Cost of a project is measured as a multiple of the average wage of the workers that might be used to build the project. This measure uses one of the wage indexes.
Real Cost of a project is measured by comparing its cost to the cost index of all output in the economy. This measure uses the GDP Deflator.
Relative Output measures the amount of income or wealth relative to the total output of the economy. When compared to other incomes or wealth, it shows the relative "influence" of the owner of this income or wealth has in controlling the composition or total-amount of production in the economy. This measure uses the share of GDP.
Relative Income measures an amount of income or wealth relative to per capita GDP. When compared to other incomes or wealth, it shows the economic status or relative "prestige value" the owners of this income or wealth because of their rank in the income distribution. This measure uses GDP per capita.
Real Wage or Real Wealth measures the purchasing power of an income or wealth by its relative ability to buy a (fixed over time) bundle of goods and services such as food, shelter, clothing, etc. This bundle does (in theory) not change over time. This measure uses the CPI.
Income Value is measured as the multiple of average income that would be needed to buy a commodity. This measure uses the index of GDP per capita.
Relative Cost of a project is measured as a multiple of the resources used in its production. This would include the labor, capital and materials used to produce the project. This measure uses GDP per capita.
Labor Value is measured as the multiple of the average wage that a worker would need to use to buy the commodity. This measure uses one of the wage indexes.
Relative Labor Earnings measures an amount of income or wealth relative to the wage of the average worker. This measure uses one of the wage indexes.
Real Price is measured as the relative cost of a (fixed over time) bundle of goods and services such as food, shelter, clothing, etc., that an average household would buy. In theory the size of this bundle does not change over time, but in practice adjustments are made to its composition. This measure uses the CPI.
Consumer Price Index in any year is the cost in that year of a bundle of goods and services purchased by a typical urban consumer compared to the cost of that bundle of goods and services in a base period. A narrow measure of inflation, because confined to consumer goods and services. For this series, the base period is the 1982-84 annual average. The series used in MeasuringWorth extends the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI-U (consumer price index for all urban consumers) series back in time. The official CPI series begins in 1913, but improvements to the official series are made here, so the CPI series here is identical to the BLS series only from 1978 onward. For further discussion of the limitations of the CPI, and for detailed exposition of development of this CPI series, please read What Was the Consumer Price Index Then? A Data Study (360K PDF).
A Purchasing Power Calculator compares the relative value of a past amount of dollars to a present amount. A simple calculator uses only the prices of consumer purchases to do this whereas a complete purchasing power calculator, such as found in this website, uses various prices, wages, output, etc., depending on the context.
Economic Share is the worth of a commodity in a particular time period divided by GDP; it is its share of total output. This is helpful in measuring the relative value of aggregate consumption items such as all the cars made in a year.