Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said the US will eventually need to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, calling the lack of available workers to fill jobs a “bigger threat” to the economy than inflation.
“We don’t have enough workers in the United States of America to fill all the job openings that are out there,” Walsh said Tuesday in an interview with MSNBC. “It’s a bigger threat to our economy than inflation is at this point, than a recession, because we need to fill these jobs.”
Walsh pointed to immigration reform as a long-term solution to the issue. Lawmakers need to develop additional legal pathways for immigrants to apply for visas, and focus on how to use immigration “in a positive manner,” he said.
“If we had pathways where people could apply for visas and come into this country for three months, six months, nine months, maybe five years, then we wouldn’t have the challenges to the magnitude that we do at our borders in our country,” Walsh added.
Read more: US Employers Add 315,000 Jobs as More Workers Join Labor Force
Nonfarm payrolls increased 315,000 in August, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The unemployment rate rose to a six-month high of 3.7 percent, the first increase since January, as the participation rate climbed. The still-low unemployment rate means the Federal Reserve will continue to consider raising interest rates as it seeks to lower inflation.
Polls show the economy is the primary concern for voters ahead of the November midterm elections that will determine control of Congress.