© Reuters. A woman walks past an Apple logo in front of an Apple store in Saint-Herblain near Nantes, France, September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/Files

(Reuters) -Apple Inc has raised the pay for its hourly U.S. employees, the iPhone maker said on Wednesday, as companies face a tight labor market, a surge in unionization efforts and rising inflation.

The starting pay for hourly workers in the United States will rise to $22, or higher based upon the market, a 45% jump from 2018 levels, Apple (NASDAQ:) said in a statement to Reuters.

“This year as part of our annual performance review process, we’re increasing our overall compensation budget,” a company spokesperson said.

Apple has informed some workers their annual reviews would be advanced by three months and the new pay will take effect in early July, the Wall Street Journal, which first the changes in compensation, said.

Cupertino, California-based Apple is known for its reticent culture, but last year some current and former workers began criticizing the company’s working conditions online.

In April, workers at Apple’s Atlanta store filed a petition to hold a union election, seeking to become the company’s first U.S. store to unionize amid a wave of labor activity at other major firms.

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