Although average earnings for young people peaked 15 years ago, it does not mean their average earnings won't recover and reach a new peak. The recent increase in average earnings is encouraging, because it reflects the strong labor market conditions of the last few years (people are working more hours and employers are paying higher wages in order to keep or attract enough workers), and the relatively low rate of inflation (average wages are rising faster than the rate of inflation, which leads to a real increase).
Falling earnings for younger workers is part of the youth workforce challenge facing Oregon and the nation. Fewer young people today are participating in the labor force than in previous generations, partly because they are focusing more on educational attainment, and partly because they faced increased competition from older workers. For more information about youth in the workforce, see Endangered: Youth in the Labor Force.