UK unemployment rose by 128,000 in the three months to October to 2.64 million, the highest level since 1994.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate was 8.3%, up from 7.9% in the previous quarter.
Youth unemployment rose to 1.027 million, the highest since records began in 1992, beating the previous record set only last month.
The number of people out of work and claiming Jobseeker's Allowance rose by 3,000 to 1.6 million in November.
However, the rate of increase in the claimant count showed signs of slowing down.
The 3,000 rise was much less than the approximate 15,000 figure expected on average by economists.
Moreover, the ONS also revised down the October increase in the claimant count from the 5,300 reported last month to just 2,500.
The young continued to bear the brunt of the lack of jobs in the UK - a problem shared by many other countries.
High youth unemployment is one of the biggest problems confronting societies around the world, condemning whole generations to a life of much reduced income.
In our special report we look at the challenges facing today's young and jobless, and the attempts to overcome the problem.
In graphics: youth unemployment
Special report: Young & Jobless
The unemployment rate among 16 to 24-year-olds rose to 22% in the three months to October, up from 20.8% three months earlier.
"Too many young lives are being wasted in the dole queue," said Martina Milburn, chief executive of the Prince's Trust youth charity.
"It is frightening to think that more than two-fifths of unemployed young people have been jobless for more than six months.
"Long-term unemployed young people are the most vulnerable, with many trapped in a vicious cycle of joblessness, anxiety and depression."
The total number of people of all ages in employment fell by 63,000 compared with three months earlier, to 29.11 million.
That was largely driven by 67,000 job losses in the public sector. The private sector added just 5,000 jobs over the same period.
"This is another grim month for jobs, with private sector companies still reluctant to hire," said Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors.
"The ongoing failure to resolve the euro crisis is likely to mean that unemployment rises still further over the winter. Many businesses are still watching and waiting."
Wages continued to rise well below the rate of inflation. Excluding bonuses, average pay rose 1.8% from a year ago, and by just 0.1% from three months ago.
On Tuesday, the ONS reported that the rate of inflation - as measured by the Consumer Prices Index - was 4.8% in November, down from 5% a month earlier.