Oregon Employment Department,
Average Earnings for Young Workers Peaked 15 Years Ago
The average real monthly earnings of Oregon workers increased in the 1990s, was essentially flat from 2000 to 2014, and has been on the rise since. Recently, average earnings have been on the rise for all age groups, but different age groups have shown very different trends since 2000. Average monthly earnings have increased for all age groups over 35 years, but average earnings are now lower than they were in 2000 for workers younger than 35 years.
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.
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