(Bloomberg) -- Workers in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County will soon be making at least $16 an hour, a dollar more than they do now, as the state joins 21 others in lifting the minimum wage. 

Increases are set to take effect Jan. 1 from Rhode Island to Nebraska to California, according to payroll processor ADP. Washington state will require employers to pay $16.28 an hour, the nation’s highest minimum wage at the state level. 

Wages are rising after a year in which labor unions have amped up pressure on employers to pay more, with US auto workers winning new gains after a strike and United Parcel Service Inc. significantly increasing pay to avoid a walkout. In many states, meanwhile, legislators have boosted minimum wage levels as inflation has fueled big increases in living expenses. 

The coming pay gains are “a reflection of increases that have passed by legislation, where raises are being phased in annually, or raises that have been passed by a ballot initiative,” said Holly Sklar, chief executive officer of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. The group, which counts Patagonia Inc. and Ben & Jerry’s among its supporters, is a coalition of executives and companies advocating for fair employee compensation. 

Recent wage growth for the lowest-earning workers is above levels seen in the last two decades, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Still, that may be cold comfort for many workers due to the post-pandemic surge in inflation, when prices for groceries, utilities and transportation have all soared. 

“I’m not saying everything’s great — everything’s not great when it comes to the economy,” Sklar said. “But with unemployment being low, it helps give workers the flexibility to change to a job that is going to help them make ends meet.”

UPS and the automakers aren’t the only companies to raise pay levels this year. Walmart Inc., the largest private-sector employer in the US, lifted starting wage to $14 from $12. Amazon.com Inc. said in September that it will boost average pay for logistics personnel to about $20.50 an hour to attract workers amid a labor shortage. Bank of America Corp. raised its minimum hourly wage this fall to $23 from $22, with a goal of paying $25 by 2025.  

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