The 39 economists polled on August 3-11 put the chance of another downturn at 30 percent — twice as high as three months ago, USA Today reported late Sunday.
The survey means another shock to the fragile US economy — such as more stock market declines or a worsening of the European debt crisis — could push Washington over the edge.
Even if the US avoids a recession, the economists see economic growth at a sluggish 2.5 percent in 2012, down from 3.1 percent in April’s survey, according to the newspaper.
The economy must grow above three percent to significantly cut unemployment in the United States.
The economists predict the jobless rate will fall slowly, dipping only to 8.8 percent in the next 12 months, the report said.
Meanwhile, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick warned of a new danger zone ahead for global markets, saying investors had lost confidence in the economic leadership of several key countries.
Zoellick said on Sunday that a convergence of events in the US and Europe had rattled investors in countries already struggling to cap sovereign debt issues and unemployment.
“What we’ve seen is that confidence is a fragile element of how the market economy works,” he said.
“I think that those events combined with some of the other fragilities… have pushed us into a new danger zone. And I don’t say those words lightly,” he added.