Kathy Willens, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Thursday, May 26, 2016, file photo, bagel maker and baker Sam Ung cuts through bagel dough before hand-rolling it into bagels prior to baking them, at Ess-a-Bagel in New York. On Wednesday, March 8, 2017, payroll processor ADP reports how many jobs private employers added in February.

WASHINGTON — U.S. private businesses added the most jobs in three years last month, a private survey found, a sign that hiring is picking up seven years after the recession ended.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 298,000 jobs in February, up from 261,000 in January. The gains were led by a huge 66,000 increase in construction, the most in 11 years, and 32,000 manufacturing jobs.

The hiring boom in construction was likely driven by unseasonably warm weather in most of the country. Still, job gains were broad-based and suggest increased business optimism has led to more hiring.

The ADP covers only private businesses and often diverge from official figures. Economists forecast that the government's jobs report, due Friday, will show an increase of 186,000, according to data provider FactSet.