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 L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL). The defense contractor is going on the offensive with its dividend, boosting its quarterly rate by 13% to $0.45 a share. Investors should be used to this by now. L-3 has now cranked up its yield seven years in a row.

Polo Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL) is also dressing up its disbursements. The fashionable apparel specialist is doubling its quarterly payout to $0.20 a share. Earnings popped 56% higher to $1.72 a share, so the chunkier rate is more than justified.

3M (NYSE: MMM) doesn't need a Post-It note to remember to adjust its dividend. It's now come through with 53 consecutive years of larger distributions. Last week's move -- up 5% to $0.55 a share on a quarterly basis -- may not seem like much, but 3M also announced a $7 billion share buyback program.

Finally we have Service Corp.'s (NYSE: SCI) payouts showing signs of life. The funeral parlor operator is jacking up its quarterly disbursements by 25% to $0.05 a share.

An improving economy is giving more companies the flexibility to prop up their yields. These four companies join industrial giant Honeywell (NYSE: HON), nonprofit software provider Blackbaud (Nasdaq: BLKB), and energy titan ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) in escalating their already generous disbursements.

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.

3M is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Blackbaud is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool owns shares of L-3 Communications. 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.