Jobless benefits fell by 15,000 last week

Government workers and contractors applied for jobless benefits during the fiscal standoff and likely boosted the figures. But federal employees are getting back pay as part of the deal passed by Congress on Wednesday night and will probably be expected to refund any benefits they received.

The legislation, signed by President Obama late Wednesday night, reopened the federal government on Thursday and put off another battle until next year. 

The shutdown delayed a vast amount of economic data, ramping up uncertainty about hiring and the broader economy. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics halted all of its releases, including the September jobs report, which was due out Oct. 4. 

Falling applications for unemployment benefits are typically followed by more hiring. But so far, there haven't been many signs of that happening.

Economists are expecting that the prolonged shutdown will weigh on economic growth in the final three months of the year, probably further delaying a Federal Reserve decision to taper its $85 billion in monthly economic stimulus.