WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates were flat this week for a second straight week. Home-loan rates stayed near record lows as the economy, especially in the services sector, remains burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate home loan remained at last week’s 2.73%. By contrast, the rate stood at 3.47% a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans, popular among homeowners seeking to refinance their mortgages, eased to 2.19% from 2.21%.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly to 793,000 last week, the government reported Thursday, evidence that job cuts remain high despite a substantial decline in new confirmed viral infections.

The damage from the pandemic to the U.S. and global economies suppressed mortgage rates through most of 2020. Economists are forecasting modest increases in home-loan rates this year.