The last time the United States enacted major immigration reform was the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. Since then, little has been done to fix what has become a broken system despite heated debate at the national, state, and local levels.

At the same time, the immigration debate has become increasingly disconnected from the exigencies of the U.S. economy, even in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic in which worker shortages and labor market dysfunction became even more glaring. Worse still, the aging U.S. workforce and structural shifts toward a more service-oriented economy will likely deepen much of this dysfunction unless policymakers can agree to major reforms to shore up the U.S. workforce.

This report aims to support these necessary reforms by highlighting the areas of the economy that are most in need of workers. Importantly, the approach not only highlights occupations that are—and will continue to be—in greatest demand, but also the occupations that are most complementary to the existing workforce and ensure that efforts to meet labor market needs support all workers.

At the core is a framework that the report calls the “Occupational Opportunity Network,” which identifies strategic occupations that will be in high demand for the next decade; are historically immigrant intensive; and have a high degree of complementarity with other occupations.

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