WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Job openings at U.S. workplaces rose to 4.97 million in November, the highest level since early 2001, from 4.83 million in October, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Tuesday. Compared with same period in the prior year, November's job openings rose 21%, as private-sector openings increased 20% to 4.51 million, and government positions rose to 459,000 from 369,000. With 9.07 million unemployed people in November, there were about 1.82 potential job seekers per opening, below October's ratio of 1.86. In November 2013, there were 10.81 million unemployed people -- about 2.62 potential seekers per opening. When the recession began in December 2007, there were about 1.77 potential job seekers per opening. The number of separations, such as quits and layoffs, fell to 4.62 million in November from 4.86 million in October. Meanwhile, the total number of hires declined to 4.99 million from 5.1 million. The level of hires was about 5 million when the recession began.