New York state will begin offering $3,000 in bonuses to health care workers who have been on the job for at least six months and earn less than $125,000 as part of an effort to retain people in the sector following more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the bonuses taking effect on Wednesday as more than 9,000 health care worker positions remain vacant in New York.

At the same time, New York is trying to expand the number of people in the field through a new scholarship program, which will require graduates to work in the state for at least two years after completing their education.

"That's how we continue to grow and sustain our workforce for the future," Hochul said.

The health care workforce has been depleted over the last several years during the ongoing response to the public health crisis, with officials blaming a variety of factors, including burnout as well as some workers refusing to be vaccinated for COVID.

But at the same time, Hochul is also shoring up crucial political allies, including the key labor union 1199SEIU as well as influential hospital and health care networks in the state as the governor runs for a full term this year.

New York lawmakers and Hochul agreed to the bonuses in the state budget earlier this year, worth more than $1 billion in total.