Long-term average mortgage rates have fallen this week as the economic outlook has remained muted amid a wave of new cases of the delta-variant coronavirus. They remained below 3%.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on a 30-year mortgage edged down to 2.86%, from 2.88% last week. This is very close to the benchmark rate at the same time last year, 2.87%. It peaked this year at 3.18% in April. Mortgage rates fell at the start of the summer and then remained stable despite rising inflation.
The rate on a 15-year loan, a popular option for homeowners refinancing their mortgages, fell to 2.12% from 2.19% last week.
Concerns abound that the highly contagious delta variant could slow economic recovery after the pandemic by reducing employment and curbing consumer spending. Reluctance to immunize was cited by economists as a significant factor after the government reported this month that employers created just 235,000 jobs in August, well below the roughly one million added during each of the previous two months.
A new government report on Thursday showed the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits last week fell to 332,000 from a pandemic low, a sign that the spread of the delta variant may have increased layoffs slightly.