Sorry, Sen. Sanders: Minimum Wage Hikes Reduce Real Income for Workers

Many of us remember the anticipation and pride of opening our first paycheck, only to feel sick and indignant at that tiny after-tax total. We might feel salty toward that stingy grocery store or restaurant chain that couldn’t cough up more than minimum wage. The truth is, your employer pays far more to employ you than your hourly rate. Thanks to government-imposed burdens, your bosses could be paying twice as much to employ you as you’ll see in your take-home pay.

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders was blasted from all sides in July after his staff’s complaints about their pay were leaked to The Washington Post. Sanders made the “Fight for $15” minimum wage cause a centerpiece of his campaign, but his lowest-tier employees reported salaries and long hours that amounted to less than $13 per hour.

Campaign field organizers, usually recent graduates seeking the prestige of a national candidate, generate relatively little value and are sometimes volunteers. Rather than boost salaries, Sanders initially suggested cutting staffers’ hours, upping their per-hour pay but cutting the valuable experience and face-