In FY2014, the USPTO swelled to over 12,000 employees. This represents a 50% increase in less than a decade. As the chart above indicates, the bulk of the increase (and indeed, the bulk of employees overall) is in patent examiners. Today, the number of patent examiners is approaching 9,000 and Director Lee expects to continue to hire more examiners through the next year.
The idea here is to take control of the 1.1 million application backlog to ensure that patents are either issued or rejected early in the process. A major question is what will the USPTO do with the excess employees once the backlog comes down.