WASHINGTON (AP) -- Leading economists say they don't expect much change next year in the 8.6 percent unemployment rate, even though the economy should grow faster in 2012.
The three dozen private, corporate and academic economists surveyed by The AP expect the unemployment rate to be stuck at a recession-level 8.4 percent when voters go to the polls in November.
The AP economists also say growth in the U.S. could be buffeted by debt crisis upheavals in Europe or some other shock.
They say they expect the economy to grow 2.4 percent next year. In 2011, it likely grew less than 2 percent.
Congressional gridlock ahead of the 2012 elections and unforeseen global events, like this year's Arab Spring protests, could slow the U.S. economy. Three economists said rising nuclear tensions with Iran are a concern.