WASHINGTON—Financial institutions that have been earning record profits from home loans are adding or transferring thousands of staff to catch up with demand for refinancing after shortages blocked homeowners from getting lower rates.

Employment tied to mortgages rose 9% this year through September to 285,000, the most since 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as lenders responded to Federal Reserve efforts to push down borrowing costs, President Barack Obama loosened requirements, and housing recovered from a six- year slump, according to National Mortgage News, an affiliate of Credit Union Journal.

Those constraints are lifting after banks built up units to handle the highest level of refinancing since 2009. JPMorgan Chase, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, has transferred 3,500 people from servicing to mortgage originations and Wells Fargo has expanded its operations staff by at least 25% this year. The hiring comes before a potential acceleration in volume after President Obama's re-election saw debt yields tumble and increased the possibility of expanded programs to help homeowners improve rates.

"The trend in headcount is upward," Jain said in a telephone interview. "During the next three to six months, we're expecting a 10% increase in capacity."

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