This morning's ADP employment report wasn't just better than expected. It was so much that it spurred experts to grow optimistic that the worst might be over.
Consensus estimates predicted 9 million private-sector jobs were lost in May. But the actual drop was only 2.8 million, ADP reported.
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett -- who initially expressed some disbelief that the numbers and wondered "if there's not something funny going on" -- said the report was a good sign that "people are getting back to work."
The ADP report comes ahead of Friday's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists predict 8 million lost jobs and an unemployment rate of nearly 20%, which could be the peak.
JPMorgan economist Daniel Silver noted "the ADP report isn't always a reliable predictor of the BLS data." Still, "it suggests that the pace of job loss moderated noticeably between April and May, even though it remained substantial relative to pre-Covid-19 norms."
May's ADP report also showed a change in the sectors where job losses occurred compared to last month -- a stark reminder of how the pandemic is rippling through the economy. While April's report revealed devastation to the hospitality sector, May's biggest drops were in transportation and manufacturing.
"There are two big questions about the job market over the next few months," said PNC chief economist Gus Faucher.
"First, will job losses turn to job gains as businesses reopen? And second, if so, will the pace of job growth bring back millions of jobs in the second half of 2020, rapidly replacing those jobs lost during the Viral Recession, or will it be a much slower process?"
CNN's Betsy Klein contributed to this report.