Paul Cook


January 29, 2014 7:04 PM
Shea Johnson, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON • U.S. Rep. Paul Cook said on Wednesday that while he agreed with some of the broad themes included in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening, Obama’s speech was short on specific solutions to problems, including the “most important issue” facing Cook’s constituents in the High Desert.

“The economy isn’t growing fast enough to help the unemployed,” Cook wrote in an email to the Daily Press. “Hundreds of thousands of people have to simply give up looking for work.”

The unemployment rate in San Bernardino County slid half a percent last month to 8.7 percent, according to the state Employment Development Department, and dropped nationally to 6.7 percent — its lowest since October 2008. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the apparent good news was skewed by 347,000 people no longer looking for work.

“Interestingly, a broader measure of unemployment that also captures people who have given up looking for a job … didn’t budge,” the newspaper reported.

Cook, R-Yucca Valley, wrote that lawmakers should be focused on creating jobs, saying there was no evidence that passing an across-the-board hike in federal minimum wage would accomplish that. While Obama will sign an executive order in the coming weeks, which will increase the hourly wage for new federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10, he’ll need Congress in order to extend that increase to all of America’s workers.

“I’m concerned about taking a blanket one-size-fits-all approach to the minimum wage,” Cook wrote. “Not every problem has a federal solution. Should California have the same minimum wage as North Dakota?”

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