MU student advocates for Missouri minimum wage increase

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | 8:35 p.m. CST; updated 8:56 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 11, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY — Two part-time jobs, a full course load at MU and an internship with a state senator might seem like enough work for three people, but it's just a regular week for India Bloom.

To pay her living expenses and tuition, Bloom, a junior political science major, works at least 30 hours a week between her two minimum-wage jobs, but it still isn’t enough to make ends meet.

Bloom spoke at a hearing on Tuesday in the state capitol in favor of a Senate bill that would raise the minimum wage in Missouri to $10 an hour from $7.50 an hour, and would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to 60 percent of the minimum wage from 50 percent.

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, who introduced the bill, is also Bloom’s boss. Bloom works in Jefferson City every Monday and Wednesday as an unpaid intern for Nasheed.

Although Nasheed doesn’t think her bill would raise minimum wage enough to be a living wage, she said it is at least a starting point.

"This is easier to get done," she said. "We have to take small steps. If we can take small steps, I believe at the end of the day that we can get there."

The bill would also have a cost of living adjustment that could increase the minimum wage every year based on inflation.

Along with her capitol internship, Bloom also works in a grocery store in Boonville and in a dining hall at MU. She said the dining hall serves meals to its employees for 69 cents, which was sometimes the only way she could afford to eat last semester.

"There were months where sometimes that meal was my only meal the entire day because I didn’t have food," Bloom said. "I couldn’t afford food trying to make ends meet. It’s just not always possible."

Brad Jones, the state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said the bill could hurt those it is trying to help.

The National Federation of Independent Business is an advocacy group for small businesses, which Jones said represents about 9,000 businesses in Missouri.

Some minimum-wage workers might not have jobs following the wage increases, he said. Many of the businesses he has talked to are worried about having to lay off workers or going belly-up if their costs increase. 

Price increases will follow cost increases, which will make things worse for the people who would lose their jobs, Jones said.

"The price of everything goes up," he said. "Not only do these people not have a minimum wage job, they don’t have any job at all. It’s kind of a vicious circle."

At the hearing, Webster University economist Allan MacNeill said the argument that an increase in the minimum wage would raise unemployment isn’t supported by evidence.

"Economists have conducted numerous studies on this issue looking at counties next to each other with different minimum wages, and they have found that higher minimum wages have increased workers' earnings without a significant impact on unemployment," he said.

Speaking in favor of the bill, MacNeill said in the hearing that increasing the minimum wage could help the economy because lower-wage workers spend almost all of their extra income, which puts their money right back into the economy.

At the hearing, he said a raise to $10 an hour isn't that drastic. If the minimum wage kept up with inflation rates it would be about $10.71, MacNeill said.

Bloom is also in favor of an increase in the minimum wage because she doesn’t think the current $7.50 an hour is enough to live on.

"Most months, I have enough for rent and about $100 left over to cover gas, groceries and anything else left for the month, and that’s it," she said.

“The worst is seeing your car get empty and knowing that you have so much time before you get paid again, before you can fill up your tank, so maybe you put $5 worth of gas in there and pray to Jesus that your car gets where you need to go,” Bloom said.

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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John Schultz February 12, 2014 | 12:14 a.m.

Shocking idea here, but maybe she should punt on the unpaid internship or the Senator could offer to pay her at least the current minimum wage (or the proposed $10/hour)?

(Report Comment)
Jerri Eldridge February 12, 2014 | 10:15 a.m.

What about current employees of major employers in Columbia who only get $10.00 an hour? Are they going to increase that too? Employers may accept raising the minimum wage but whose to say current employees will be more likely getting the increases not new employees. Current employees don't always get a cost of wage increase -- been a couple of years now since I got one.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders February 12, 2014 | 11:50 a.m.

If minimum wages are such a good idea (hint: they aren't) then why don't the geniuses running the country make it $50 an hour, making all of us "wealthy" in the process?

As always, this problem (as well as a multitude of others) is merely a symptom of the true problem, the existence of the Not-Federal, Not-Reserve system.

Until people decide that they need to understand the ramifications of the Fed's "magic checkbook," they are in NO POSITION to make recommendations about ANYTHING connected to money.

Instead they study "political science" and learn how to fight for control of the gun of governance. All in order that they too might get "their fair share of the loot."

I'd bet that this student (as well as the majority of the population) cannot even correctly define what a dollar even is, yet they use the coercive force of politics to demand how they are used within an economy.

Until the Fed is stopped, there is no way possible for wage growth to keep pace with the price inflation, as it is a wealth transfer system, NOT a wealth creation system.

Every time someone says "X needs more money," what they are really saying is that they need more wealth. Yet instead of an increase in wealth, an increase in money is but an increase of someone else's indebtedness.

The US is officially $17T in debt at the moment. Add in the promises of future entitlements, and the number quickly approaches $75T (depending on what you count). All because we've allowed a private global banking syndicate to buy the entire world out from under us cost-free (with that magic checkbook).

Yet not even the college educated can seem to escape their own destructive ignorance by demanding even further destruction.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 12, 2014 | 1:06 p.m.

Today's "mathematical" equation:

Political science = Queen of the pseudo sciences.

@ Richard Saunders: I couldn't agree with you more. By the way, the Fed doesn't actually print all the paper money, it's harvested from endless groves of Money Trees located in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas of Maryland and Virginia. The trees are rather attractive, as trees go; we had a grove near us when I lived in Alexandria, Virginia in the 1950s.

Picking, which lasts 12 months a year, is today typically done by un-documented aliens; native born citizens for the most part feel such labor is beneath them. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 12, 2014 | 2:37 p.m.

JerriE: "Are they going to increase that too?"

Probably not. Advocates of minimum wage increases fail to discuss this because it makes their agenda a harder sell. If you earn $10.00/hour and a less experienced coworker makes $7.50/hour, and the latter gets a mandated increase to $10.00, you'll probably find yourself making the same money as a person less experienced than you.

The reason?

A good average for wages as a percentage of gross income in businesses is ca. 42%. Yes, there are fluctuations, but this value is a good average. If the business increased everyone's salary by the $2.50/hour, this is a $5200/year/employee raise. If you have 10 employees, that's $52000. And so on for 100, 1000 employees.

Big business may be able to absorb this, but big businesses generally operate on smaller margins with higher numeric dollar values. Small businesses will lose a substantial percentage of their profits, perhaps to where the business risk becomes too great, and it will most likely be unable to increase its prices to make up the difference.

Increasing the minimum wage is a sham anyway, designed to only pander to a political base...showing a group of voters that you "are DOING something." In reality, prices increase for those same items...made by minimum wagers...that minimum wagers buy. It's a wash.

Don't look for a significant salary increase...if any.

PS: Best way to increase your wages is to prove you contribute more value to the company than you take out....a time honored method ignored by many.

(Report Comment)

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