NEW YORK (AP) -- Costco will increase its starting wage to $16 an hour, surpassing most of its main competitors at a time when efforts to raise the minimum wage are gaining traction in the U.S.

Costco CEO Craig Jelinek announced the increase Thursday at a Senate Budget Committee hearing, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, to examine wages at major companies.

Jelinek said the starting wage for Costco employees would rise to $16 next week, up from $15 the company instituted two year ago.

The starting wage scale puts Costco above competitors including Amazon, Target and Best Buy, which have $15 minimum wages. Walmart's starting pay is $11 an hour.

Get our free mobile app

Advice from Minnesotans to Southerners Experiencing Winter