Dividend checks continue to get fatter in corporate America, as more companies jack up their distribution rates.

Readers of the Income Investor newsletter can certainly appreciate that kind of thinking. Let's take a closer look at some of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.

Let's start with Family Dollar (NYSE: FDO). The discounter is boosting its quarterly dividend by 16% to $0.18 a share. Skeptics fear that thrift stores and other retailers wooing penny pinchers may lose shoppers as the recession fades in the rearview mirror, but Family Dollar posted strong comps in its most recent quarter.

Carnival (NYSE: CCL) is also coasting along nicely. The world's leading cruise line operator is more than doubling its quarterly payouts to $0.25 a share. Carnival is confident in its strong initial bookings for 2011. It also helps that Carnival doesn't have a lot of costly new ships currently being built in the shipyard.

Suburban Propane Partners (NYSE: SPH) is also fueling its distributions. Investors will now be receiving $0.8525 a share every three months. It's unlikely to last long. Suburban has spoiled its investors by jacking up its yield 28 times since the energy partnership's recapitalization a dozen years ago.

It was a pretty good week for the energy-based partnerships, as Suburban Propane joins ONEOK Partners (NYSE: OKS) and Kinder Morgan Energy (NYSE: KMP) in energizing their already generous disbursements.

Finally, we have Finish Line (Nasdaq: FINL) picking up the pace. The athletic footwear retailer's new quarterly rate is $0.05 a share. A nickel may not seem like a lot, but it's a 25% upgrade from its previous payouts.

Subscribers to the Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. The newsletter singles out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what is being recommended these days? Go ahead and give the newsletter service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get hiked will be your interest.

Do higher dividends matter to you? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

ONEOK Partners is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz pays attention to yield signs. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.