New York state is formally ending a freeze on hiring as the state's finances have improved since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday.

The former Cuomo administration claimed the freeze was ending in May. But Hochul on Thursday moved to formalize the end of that months later with a formal bulletin posted by the executive branch's top budget official to state agencies.

Hochul's administration this week announced revenue to the state government was $2.1 billion above initial projections as the economy has improved since the onset of the pandemic and restrictions on businesses and gathering spaces have been lifted.

"As we continue to combat the pandemic, we must keep New York moving forward and that includes building our workforce to ensure we can support New Yorkers at the highest level," Hochul said. "However, we must continue to act responsibly and prudently with the state's finances as we work to slow the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and help to ensure all businesses and New Yorkers remain safe."

The number of workers in executive branch agencies since the start of the freeze declined from 118,000 full-time workers to about 107,500 employees driven in large part by attrition, Hochul said.