Santa Barbara County’s average unemployment rate for November was 7.3 percent, which has been holding steady for the last two months.

The November numbers released Friday by the State Employment Development Department, however, reflect an improvement from 8.2 percent in November a year ago.

On a countywide comparison, Santa Barbara County still ties with San Luis Obispo County in overall unemployment ratings, but both have risen to fifth place from sixth place last month for the state unemployment ranking compared with the other 57 counties in California.

The California unemployment rate for November decreased to 9.8 percent from 10.1 percent from a month ago, and 10.2 percent the previous month and from 11.5 percent for the same time period in 2011. The unemployment rate is derived from a federal survey of 5,500 California households.

The U.S. unemployment rate decreased in November to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent a month ago.

“The no-change unemployment rate for November indicates that the local economy, overall, is steady,” said Raymond McDonald, executive director for the Santa Barbara County Workforce Investment Board. “Unlike during the height of the recession when we were experiencing monthly increases across most industry sectors, we now appear to have returned to the ‘norm’ for this time of year. Hopefully, job growth will increase as we enter 2013 — though the national government decisions around taxation and debt will certainly be factors.

“A bright spot in today’s unemployment figures is when you look back at where we were last year, at 8.2 percent unemployment, and realize how far we’ve come to arrive at the current 7.3 percent rate. The WIB has pointed out in the past that growth in the ‘Professional and Business Services’ category (an increase since January 2012 of 2,900) is significant in that this indicates growth in staffing agency placements — which is often a prelude to permanent job growth across all industries.”