Economists are still calling for another US stimulus package to boost the economy as Americans head into an uncertain fall. But it’s not clear that lawmakers can come to terms after talks stalled last month, especially as the November election nears. And job growth is slowing.

U.S. companies added jobs at a modest pace last month, a private survey found, a sign that while hiring continues, it is only soaking up a relatively small proportion of the unemployed.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 428,000 jobs in August, a figure that before the pandemic would have represented a healthy gain. But the increase represents a small slice of the 12 million jobs that have been lost to the spread of the coronavirus.

No quick economic rebound: Deutsche Bank CEO offers grim reality check

ADP said the bulk of the gains were at large companies, which added 298,000 jobs. Small businesses with less than 50 employees gained just 52,000 positions, while medium-sized firms — with between 50 and 499 employees — added 79,000 jobs.

ADP’s figures do not include government workers and frequently diverge from the Labor Department’s official jobs report, to be released Friday. ADP revised up its July job gain to 212,000, but that is still far below the 1.4 million additional jobs that month reported by the federal government.

Stimulus deal?

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers on Tuesday that he believes “a bipartisan agreement still should be reached,” and later spoke to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Still, longstanding disagreements remain.

After the call, Pelosi expressed concerns about Mnuchin suggesting a smaller deal in the near term, arguing that economists demand more.

“Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences,” she said in a statement.

Clock is ticking

The window for Congress to act is growing smaller as the election nears.

“With the US election under just over [two] months away this could well be the last legislative battle before ballots are cast,” Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid told clients Wednesday. “A lack of stimulus could result in softer data in the upcoming months.”

The economy is bouncing back, with the Back-to-Normal Index from CNN Business and Moody’s Analytics showing the US economy operating at 79% of where it was in early March. Manufacturing is on track for a “V”-shaped recovery, while retail sales quickly regained ground. But there are concerns that without more government money in Americans’ pockets soon, the comeback could lose steam.

Visa said in a filing on Tuesday that spending on US debit cards grew 24% year-over-year in August. But that’s slightly weaker than the growth it saw in July. The company said this was “partially due to the expiration of the elevated unemployment benefits.”

Goldman Sachs warned clients that President Donald Trump’s $300 supplemental unemployment benefit, passed by executive order, came “too little too late.” The investment bank argued that the expiration of the $600 weekly supplement to unemployment insurance benefits at the end of July stood to disrupt consumer spending in August.

Goldman’s current forecast is that Congress will implement another $1 trillion in stimulus by late September, pushing total fiscal aid to 17.5% of GDP in 2020. But the bank said that the risk of no additional stimulus until after the election has grown.