WASHINGTON — For millions of Americans, a reminder of the economic damage of the 2007-09 recession has arrived every week or two for years – in their paychecks.

Painfully slow wage growth has limited economic recovery, with many workers getting few if any raises.

But there are signs that has started to change.

The falling unemployment rate has led to more competition for workers, spurring solid gains in average hourly earnings in recent months.

Those pressures, amplified by laws providing minimum-wage increases in California, New York and elsewhere, also are triggering changes for the workers who need raises the most.

Beginning last year, large companies such as Wal-Mart, Starbucks, McDonald’s and JPMorgan Chase increased what they pay their lowest-level employees.

“A pay increase is the right thing to do,” JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said recently in announcing raises that would bring the hourly pay of bank tellers, customer service representatives and other employees to at least $12 an hour in three years, from the current $10.15.

“Wages for many Americans have gone nowhere for too long,” he wrote in a New York Times opinion article.

The same message has emanated from the presidential campaigns of Republicans and Democrats.

When adjusted for inflation, median annual household incomes declined to $53,657 in 2014, the most recent year for which government data are available, from $57,724 in 2000.

“Household incomes are more than $4,000 lower than their levels in the year 2000,” Republican nominee Donald Trump said at a rally in Virginia last month. “Think of it … you’re making $4,000 less now than you did 16, 17 years ago.”

Wage growth already was taking a hit this century for several reasons.

One factor is the loss of bargaining power caused by a drop in the share of private-sector unionized workers.

Another is the decline in higher-paying manufacturing jobs as companies moved more factories abroad.

As a result, the share of money flowing into households from wages began falling sharply compared with capital income from interest and dividends, according to a study last year by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

The 2008 financial crisis and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression amplified those changes, further stifling overall wage growth.

But after two years of strong job growth, job openings are near record levels. That’s forced employers to raise pay to attract new workers and retain existing ones, economists said.

Average hourly earnings increased 2.4 percent for the 12 months that ended Aug. 31.

Annual wage gains have been consistently in that range since last fall – they reached a seven-year high of 2.7 percent year-over-year in July – an improvement from the tepid 2 percent during much of the first six years of the recovery.

With annual inflation running below 1 percent, the accelerating wage growth is boosting workers’ purchasing power.

“We have turned the corner, and today the wage gains that are happening are far in excess of inflation,” said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at recruiting website Glassdoor.

“As long as we keep seeing steady job gains in the monthly jobs report and near-record job openings, it’s inevitable we’re going to see wage growth pick up,” he said.