Black candidates barely held their own in the November elections for Congress and major state offices, according to statistics released yesterday by the Joint Center for Political Studies.

In the state legislatures, the number of blacks declined from 292 to 285 (3.8 percent of all seats).

The only black U.S. senator, Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) was defeated. In the House, black representation - including two nonvoting delegates - rose from 16 to 17.

There are no black governors or state attorneys general. Rep. Yvonne B. Burke (D) was defeated in her race for attorney general of California.

The number of black lieutenant governors declined from two to zero. In Colorado, the black lieutenant governor retired. In California, Mervyn Dymally (D) lost.

Spokesmen for the center, a private, nonprofit organization, said blacks scored some gains in states races.

Vel Phillips was elected secretary of state in Wisconsin, and Richard Austin was relected to that job in Michigan. Phillips, Austin and McCrary, a temporary appointee as Florida secretary of state, give blacks three such positions.

In addition, according to center figures, Connecticut Treasurer Henry Parker was reelected, while Roland Burris was elected controller of Illinois.

The center also noted that Richard Erwin, elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, becomes the first black to hold a statewide position since Reconstruction, and Harry Cole was elected to the Maryland Court of Appeals.

When the center first began collecting state legislature figures in 1970, 168 blacks had office. The figure rose sharply over the next several elections, then leveled off until this year. Part of the decline in the latest election was caused by a reduction in the size of the Massachusetts House, which eliminated some seats held by blacks, center spokesmen said.

Eleanor Farrar, vice president of the center, said blacks made their greatest gains in state offices after districts were reapportioned in line with the 1970 census. She predicted another increase in black state representatives after the 1980 census.

"After 1980 I feel it will pick up, especially in the South because that is where the majority of the black population still lives," she said.

Joint center statistics show that the largest number of black state legislators is in Georgia, 23 of 236 seats, followed by Illinois, 20; Maryland, 19; Michigan and Alabama, 16 each (over 10 percent of the seats); Pennsylvania, also 16; Missouri and New York, 15 each; South Carolina and Texas, 13 each; Tennessee and Ohio, 12 each, and Louisiana, 10.

Of the 285 black state legislators in the country, 47 are women.