Update: This blog post and the graph were updated on February 10, 2021 to reflect more recent price index estimates and trends.

Sitting at your desk very late in the afternoon, your coffee going cold, staring at a spreadsheet, crunching numbers for a Capital Improvement Plan. You’re ready to call it a day, but decide to do “just one more quick calculation” (you tell yourself). You glance over to the next cell, and you see it. It’s a simple question, but hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, hinge on it. “At what annual rate are your capital costs inflated into the future?” Do you have a good answer off the top of your head?

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