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.