WASHINGTON — Sales of new homes had their second-worst month on record in August, signaling that the housing market remains a severe weak spot for the economy.

The Commerce Department says last month’s new home sales were unchanged from a month earlier at a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 288,000. Sales were down by 29 percent from the same month a year earlier.

The only time sales were slower was in May, when the sales pace was 282,000, the worst on records dating back to 1963. July’s results had been the worst on record, but were adjusted upward.

High unemployment, tight credit and uncertainty about home prices have kept people from buying homes. Government tax credits boosted the market earlier in the year, but those expired in April.