Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) — More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, underscoring the uneven progress in the labor market.

Jobless claims increased by 8,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Feb. 8 from 331,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 330,000.

Fewer dismissals are needed before hiring can accelerate and provide a bigger boost for consumer spending in the world's largest economy. Recovery in the labor market is "far from complete," Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said this week, adding that the central bank would maintain policies that ensure a return to full employment and stable prices.

"The job market isn't going anywhere quickly," said Ryan Sweet, senior economist at Moody's Analytics Inc. and the best forecaster of jobless claims during the past two years, according to Bloomberg data. Looking past the weekly swings in claims data, clearer fiscal policy and improving business confidence means "we'll start to see hiring accelerate in the spring and summer," he said.

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