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Key Words: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh warns of this looming economic ‘catastrophe’

““I think we’re going to have a bigger catastrophe if we don’t get more workers into our society, and we do that by immigration.””

That’s U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, warning of dire consequences for the economy if Congress doesn’t hammer out immigration reform.

In an interview Tuesday at CNBC’s Work Summit, Walsh addressed recession worries, saying “we definitely have to bring down inflationary pressures,” but that layoffs are not the way to do it. He argued that increasing wages and giving more opportunities to the middle class is a better alternative.

And he warned that in a historically tight labor market, immigrants are desperately needed to fill jobs.

“Every place I’ve gone in the country and talked to every major business, every small business, every single one of them is saying we need immigration reform,” Walsh said. “We need comprehensive immigration reform. They want to create a pathway for citizenship into our country, and they want to create better pathways for visas in our country.”

Growth in the U.S. labor supply is expected to slow significantly in the coming years, as retirements and a slowing birth rate take their toll on the workforce. Immigration has become a hot-button issue in American politics, but Walsh said lawmakers need to move past that.

“We need a bipartisan fix here,” Walsh said Tuesday. “I’ll tell you right now if we don’t solve immigration … we’re talking about worrying about recessions, we’re talking about inflation. I think we’re going to have a bigger catastrophe if we don’t get more workers into our society and we do that by immigration.”

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