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The percentage change calculator determines the percentage change between two values. It is particularly useful in many aspects of finance, chemistry, and exponential growth and decay, as well as in other areas of mathematics. First, we need to know how to calculate percent change and to understand and use the percent change formula. To do this, we will provide you with many examples, each with an in-depth analysis of various mathematical challenges and traps waiting for beginners.

Furthermore, we will teach you how to calculate percentage change when finding the population growth rate, a fundamental statistic parameter describing processes happening in a particular population. We are sure that after reading the whole text, the percentage change formula will stay in your head for a long time, and you will be able to find the percent change in any situation.

🔎 If you want to compute the percentage change between percentage points, check our percentage point calculator.

What is percentage change?

Percent change differs from percent increase and percent decrease in the sense that we can see both directions of the change. For example, the percent increase calculator calculates the amount of increase, in which we would say, "x percent increase". The percent decrease calculator calculates the amount of decline, in which we would say, "x percent decrease". The percent change calculator would yield a result in which we would say, "x percent increase or decrease".

🙋 We can also use percent change to express the relative error between the observed and true values in any measurement. To learn how to do that, check our percent error calculator.

Let's explain in more detail how to calculate percent change.

How do I calculate the percent change?

To calculate percent change, we need to:

  1. Take the difference between the starting value and the final value.
  2. Divide by the absolute value of the starting value.
  3. Multiply the result by 100.
  4. Or use Omni's percent change calculator! 🙂

As you can see, it's not hard to calculate percent change. If you're interested in the mathematical formula for percentage change, we invite you to read the next section.

Percent change formula

The percent change formula is as follows:

% change=100×(finalinitial)initial\footnotesize \rm \%\ change = 100 \times \frac{(final - initial)}{|initial|}

The two straight lines surrounding a number or expression (in this case, initial\rm initial) indicate the absolute value, or modulus. It means that if the value inside the straight lines is negative, we have to turn it into a positive one. The easiest way to do this is by erasing the minus before it. If the value inside the straight lines is positive, we don't need to do anything; it stays positive. After the absolute value is found, we can erase the straight lines or turn them into a bracket, as they may serve this function as well.

If you are asking how to calculate the percent difference, you should check the difference percent calculator. But if you are only looking for the difference between the initial and final values, this percent change calculator will help you.

The general percentage formula for one quantity in terms of another is multiplying the ratio of the two quantities by 100.

The percentage change calculator is not only useful in a classroom setting but also in everyday applications. The amount of sales tax on an item represents a percent change, as does the tip added to the bill at a restaurant. Calculating the percentage change may come in handy when negotiating a new salary or assessing whether your child's height has increased appropriately. As you can see, knowing how to calculate percent change by hand using the percent change formula may be useful in the real world.

Examples of calculating percentage change

Let's do a few examples together to get a good grasp on how to find a percent change.
In the first case, let's suppose that you have a change in value from 60 to 72, and you want to know the percent change.

  1. Firstly, you need to input 60 as the original value and 72 as the new value into the formula.

  2. Secondly, you have to subtract 60 from 72. As a result, you get 12.

  3. Next, you should get the absolute value of 60. As 60 is a positive number, you don't need to do anything. You can erase the straight lines surrounding 60.

  4. Now, you can divide 12 by 60. After this division, you get 0.2.

  5. The last thing to do is to multiply the 0.2 by 100. As a result, you get 20%. The whole calculations look like this:

    [(72 – 60) / |60|] × 100 = (12 / |60|) × 100 = (12 / 60) × 100 = 0.2 × 100 = 20%

  6. You can check your result using the percentage change calculator. Is everything alright?

In the second example, let's deal with a slightly different example and calculate the percent change in value from 50 to -22.

  1. Set 50 as the original value and -22 as the new value.

  2. Then, you need to perform a subtraction. The difference between -22 and 50 is -72. Remember always to subtract the original value from the new value!

  3. Next, you are obliged to get the absolute of 50. As the original value in this example is also a positive number, then you can just erase the straight lines.

  4. It is time to perform the division. -72 divided by the 50 equals -1.44.

  5. Finally, you have to multiply the result by 100. Let's see. -1.44 times 100 is -144%. The whole process should look like this:

    [(-22 – 50) / |50|] × 100 = (-72 / |50|) × 100 = (-72 / 50) × 100 = -1.44 × 100 = -144%

  6. Remember that you can always check the result with the percent change calculator.

As you may have already observed, the final result will be negative when the new value is smaller than the original one. Thus, you need to put a minus before it. On the other hand, if the new value is bigger than the original value, the result will be positive. You can use this to predict the outcome and check your answer.

How to find the percentage change between negative numbers?

Let's calculate together the percent change from -10 to -25:

  1. Subtract the original value from the new one. -25 reduced by -10 is -15.

  2. Compute the absolute value of the original value. As -10 is negative, you have to erase the minus before it, thus creating a positive value of 10.

  3. Now, let's divide -15 by 10 that you got from the last step. -15 divided by 10 is -1.5.

  4. You can finish your calculation by multiplying -1.5 by 100. The final outcome is -150%. The full equation should look like this:

    [(-25 – (-10)) / |-10|] × 100 = (-15 / |-10|) × 100 = (-15 / 10) × 100 = -1.5 × 100 = -150%

  5. As always, we encourage you to check this result with Omni's percentage change calculator.

If you had used a negative instead of a positive for the absolute value in this example, then -15 would have been divided by -10, giving you 1.5 as a result. It is a positive number, and your final answer would have been 150%. Your error would have been the difference between -1.5 and 1.5. This difference equals 3, so our calculation would have ended with 300% of an error (3 × 100% = 300%)! This is why you have to be careful when solving mathematical problems. A small mistake in one place may result in an enormous error in another.

We have a task for you! Calculate, using the methods we have described previously, what is the percentage change between -20 and -30. Concentrate and watch out for mathematical traps that are waiting for you. But don't fear. By this point, you should know everything that is required to do it correctly. Remember to check your result using the percent change calculator.

Population growth rate formula

Population growth is the increase in the number of individuals in a certain population. It can be a population of people but also cows, foxes, or even flies. Members of any species can create a population. The population may be limited to a particular territory or country or expand to the whole world. You may count the number of dogs in your neighborhood, thus determining the population of dogs in the area surrounding your home. If you count their number after one year and compare it with the previous one, you will obtain their population growth. We can calculate it using this formula:

current population – previous population = population growth

When the population growth is higher than zero, the population is increasing, and the number of individuals is getting bigger each year. However, when the population growth is negative (with a value below zero), the population becomes smaller. A population growth of 0 means that the population size is not changing at all.

Let us see how to find the rate of change or the growth rate of the population. Just divide the population growth by the number of individuals in the previous population and times by 100 to get the population growth rate. It is a measure of population growth compared to the number of individuals forming the population in the previous period. Mathematically, it looks like this:

(population growth / previous population) × 100 = population growth rate

Combined, we can write the whole formula as:

(current population – previous population) / previous population) × 100 = population growth rate

Notice that although it looks very similar to the formula for percentage change, you don’t need to get the absolute value of the previous population. It is because the population can never drop below zero nor have a negative value. Population growth and population growth rate can, however, be negative, representing the decreasing number of individuals.

What is the difference between population growth and the population growth rate? Both of these parameters are ways of illustrating the change in the size of the population. Population growth is more direct and precise, as it shows us the exact difference between population size in two periods. However, the population growth rate also has its advantages. It emphasizes the dynamics of the process. It tells us how big the change is compared to the previous state of the population. A population growth of 20 may seem small, but if the original population was 10, then it means that the population size has tripled. The population growth rate shows it to us. In this case, its value would be 200%.

How to compute population growth rate?

Let's go together through an example to see how to find the population growth rate. In 1990 in the United States, there were 253,339,000 citizens. In 2010 it reached 310,384,000 people.

  1. Let's calculate the population growth. You have to subtract the number of US citizens in 1990 from the number of citizens in 2010:

    310,384,000 - 253,339,000 = 57,045,000

  2. Now, you can calculate the population growth rate. To do that, you need to divide the population growth by the number of citizens in the earlier period (in this case, it's 1990):

    57,045,000 / 253,339,000 = 0.225

  3. The last thing to do is multiply the acquired value by 100 to get the percent:

    0.225 × 100% = 22.5%

  4. After these calculations, you can say that the US population increased by 22.5% between the years 1990 and 2010. Congratulations!

You don't have to perform all the calculations by hand. Keep in mind that our percentage change calculator is always waiting for you at Omni Calculator!

There is yet another situation in which you may want to use the percentage change calculator. If you have some spare money that you want to invest, you will have to choose between many investment offers. By comparing the percent changes of different investment options, you will see which is the optimal one.


Is percentage difference equal to percentage change?

No, percentage difference and percentage change are two different notions. In percentage change, the point of reference is one of the numbers in question, while in percentage difference, we take the average of these two numbers as the point of reference. Moreover, percentage change can be positive or negative, while the percentage difference is always positive (it has no direction).

What is the percentage change from 5 to 20?

20 is a 300% increase of 5. Indeed, we have (20 - 5) / 5 = 3 and 3 × 100% = 300%, as claimed.

What is the percentage change from 20 to 10?

10 is a 50% decrease of 20. Indeed, we have (10 - 20) / 20 = -0.5 and -0.5 × 100% = -50%, which corresponds to a 50% decrease.

What is the percentage change from 2 to 3?

3 is a 50% increase of 2. Indeed, we have (3 - 2) / 2 = 0.5 and 0.5 × 100% = 50%, as we've claimed.

What is the percentage change from 5 to 4?

4 is a 20% decrease of 5. Indeed, we have (4 - 5) / 5 = -0.2 and -0.2 × 100% = -20%, which corresponds to a 20% decrease, as claimed.

Kacper Pawlik, MD and Dominik Czernia, PhD
how to calculate percent change? formula
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