updated 3/18/2004 8:41:07 AM ET 2004-03-18T13:41:07

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped for the third consecutive week last week, pushing jobless claims to the lowest level in more than three years.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of laid-off workers seeking jobless benefits fell by 6,000 last week to 336,000, a level that was last seen the week of Jan. 13, 2001, just before Bill Clinton relinquished the White House to George W. Bush.

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