We all feel the effects of inflation: Groceries cost more, childcare seems to be a luxury service. But that’s subjective. To nail down the real-world impact of inflation, economists like to compare rising prices to salaries, which are more static. This is where the wage inflation calculator comes in. The tool illustrates how much buying power your earnings currently have compared to past years.
We’ll take a closer look at how wage inflation calculators work and what they can tell us about making a living in the U.S. in 2022. We’ll also examine what inflation is and how much wages have grown compared to home prices, gold, and other metrics.
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What Goes Behind an Hourly Wage Inflation Calculator
A wage inflation calculator may go by other names, such as an inflation wage calculator, hourly wage inflation calculator, minimum wage inflation calculator, or a wage adjusted for inflation calculator — they’re all the same. You can see an example at https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm
The calculator is one way to represent inflation, which is the change in price of goods and services. It tells you how much buying power a dollar amount has on a certain date compared to another date — usually today or a year-over-year equivalent. For example, someone may enter their hourly wage on Jan. 1, 2010, and then compare how much that same wage bought them on Jan. 1, 2022.
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Historical Inflation Rates, Compared
The table below shows the annual rate of inflation from 1920 to present. See the next section for more information on how to read the table.
|Year||Annual Average CPI-U||Annual Percent Change (Rate of inflation)|
Data courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
*2022 data is an estimate determined by the change in the CPI from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022.
How To Read Our Historical Inflation Rate Table
To understand the table shared above, first you need to know what CPI means. The Consumer Price Index comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which began collecting family expenditure data in 1917. The annual average CPI-U in the second column represents Urban CPI data. The annual percent change between each year’s CPI represents the rate of inflation.
How To Calculate Hourly Wage Adjusted for Inflation
Using a wage inflation calculator is an easy way to see how our income’s buying power changes with inflation. Just enter the starting year of your choice, your hourly wage, and then the current year.
Let’s say someone was making $25 per hour in 2018 and wants to know what the equivalent hourly rate is in 2022. In this case, making $25 per hour in Aug. 2018 is equivalent to making $29.37 in Aug. 2022. Assuming the individual makes the same money today, this shows that the buying power of their hourly wage has decreased over the years.
If you’re negotiating a raise, you could argue that $29.37 is the minimum you should be making to keep up with the cost of living.
What Is Inflation and How Does It Work?
Inflation represents changes in prices of services and goods throughout the economy. The way the government measures inflation is by comparing the current cost of goods and services to prices in previous years.
Inflation weakens the purchasing power of the dollar, as consumers have to pay more for things than they did in previous months and years. Inflation can also deflate the value of cash held in savings accounts.
What Is Actual Inflation?
Actual inflation is a term used to refer to what the current rate of inflation really is versus what consumers perceive the current rate to be, or their “inflation expectations.” Consumer expectations influence actual inflation.
Hyperinflation is a term used when rapid inflation occurs. This is when prices rise uncontrollably over a period of time. Hyperinflation is extreme — 50% a month or more — and fortunately rare.
The U.S. has never experienced hyperinflation, and no one believes it’s on the horizon. The most recent example of hyperinflation is Venezuela, where inflation reached 65,000% in 2018.
Deflation is the opposite of inflation, when prices of goods and services go down. The U.S. experienced deflation of 7% (or -7% inflation) during the first few years of the Great Depression.
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How Is Inflation Calculated?
The formula for measuring inflation is:
• Percent Inflation Rate = (Final CPI Index Value/Initial CPI Value) x 100
How Is Wage Adjusted for Inflation Calculated?
It’s complicated. The easiest way to calculate a wage adjusted for inflation is to use an online wage inflation calculator.
How Inflation Impacts You
There’s some confusion surrounding whether inflation is good or bad. Some inflation is normal, and shows that the economy is growing. But for consumers it feels like a bad thing. It can be especially worrisome for borrowers with variable-rate-interest debt like student loan debt.
Economists can measure the impact of inflation on consumers in a number of ways. You’ve probably seen articles discussing college tuition vs. inflation, which show how American incomes have not kept up rising education costs. Other metrics tell similar stories.
Let’s look at a few different metrics that reveal how consumers may feel the impact of inflation.
How Your Wage Is Doing Relative to the Housing Market
Inflation can sneak up on consumers when prices at grocery stores rise slightly. But they really feel it when making a large purchase, such as buying a home. People who have saved for many years to buy a house find that their income and savings are no longer enough to reach their home buying goals.
That’s because median home prices have far outstripped median wages: Nationwide home prices have grown 121% since 1960, while household income increased only 29%. This may have been great news for our parents and grandparents, who saw their real estate investments soar. But for today’s first-time homebuyers, it’s a disaster.
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How Your Wage Is Doing Relative to Gold
Because gold tends to hold its value, it makes a good unit of measurement for economists. By converting wages to gold, we can get a better sense of how wages have held up, or not, over the years.
In 1965, the minimum wage was equal to 71 ounces of gold annually. Given the price of gold in 2022, that’s equal to a salary of $118,712. Compare that to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, or $15,080 annually. Minimum wage workers have lost 87% of their buying power since 1965.
How Your Wage Is Doing Relative to CPI
Remember, CPI represents consumer prices. Inflation impacts prices of essential goods and services such as groceries, gas, and childcare. This means that salaries and savings don’t extend as far as they used to. This is why many people push for raising the minimum wage during periods of inflation.
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Inflation, and the rising prices that come with it, means your income doesn’t buy as much as it used to. Using a wage inflation calculator is one way for consumers to get a more objective idea of how much buying power their hourly wage has during periods of inflation. Of course, inflation doesn’t affect all prices equally. That’s why economists use different metrics to measure inflation’s impact, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the housing market, and gold.
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How do you calculate wages adjusted for inflation?
Using a wage inflation calculator can make it easier to get insight into how much buying power an hourly wage has in the current economy. With a wage adjusted for inflation calculator, it’s easier to understand what someone’s income is currently worth compared to prior years.
How much is $15 an hour in 2000?
According to the CPI Inflation Calculator from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $15 an hour in August 2000 is equivalent to $25.71 of buying power in August 2022.
What is the inflation rate for 2022?
The current inflation rate for 2022 is 8.6%. This is an estimate based on the change in the CPI from first quarter 2021 to first quarter 2022.
How do you calculate real hourly wage from CPI?
Wage inflation calculators take the current CPI and past CPI into account to help consumers calculate their real hourly wage.
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