The main measure of unemployment published on Monday showed a 1.2 percent increase on the previous month, representing an extra 34,400 job seekers.
The new total is up to 2,814,900, a 4.9 percent increase on October 2010, and is the highest since December 1999.
The number of unemployed rose in all age groups, with older workers being hardest hit.
Employment minister Xavier Bertrand admitted the figures were "not good" in a television interview.
He also acknowledged that the government would not achieve its ambition of getting the overall unemployment rate below 9 percent by the end of the year.
The last calculation of the rate put unemployment at 9.1 percent. Business daily Les Echos reported on Monday that the OECD estimated that the rate could reach 9.9 percent by the end of 2012.
François Hollande, who will stand as the Socialist candidate in the 2012 presidential elections, denounced the "failure" of current president Nicolas Sakrozy.
"This is the symbol of failure of this president," he said at a press conference on Monday evening.