Prime minister François Fillon said on Wednesday the government would “not give up” in its efforts to fight unemployment.
“More than ever our efforts must be directed at getting the young into work, at retraining those employees under threat,” he said while visiting the southern city of Lyon.
The December figure was one percent higher than in November and 5.6 percent higher than in December 2010.
Facing a tough election battle in three months, President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to tackle growing joblessness in the French economy, hit by the eurozone debt crisis.
At a crisis jobs summit this month, he announced €430 million ($558 million) worth of new measures to encourage struggling firms to keep workers on and to retrain them.
Before his election in 2007, Sarkozy vowed to lower joblessness to five percent, but the unemployment level hit 9.3 percent in the third quarter of last year and is on track to surpass 10 percent.
Socialist presidential candidate François Hollande will announce his own plans to tackle unemployment in a major speech to launch his presidential project on Thursday.