The hike—which will start in July—applies to 90,000 workers at corporate-owned restaurants but not employees of franchisees, McDonald's said. Franchisees operate nearly 90 percent of the 14,350 U.S. McDonald's restaurants and set their own wages.
"We are acting with a renewed sense of energy and purpose to turn our business around," McDonald's President and CEO Steve Easterbrook, who took over the position with the struggling fast food giant last month, said in a release.
The move follows wage hikes this year by significant U.S. employers Wal-Mart, Target, TJX and Gap, among others. McDonald's has faced backlash over its wage policy from employees and interest groups in recent years.
Shares in the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company fell nearly 2 percent on Wednesday.
McDonald's will pay at least $1 per hour more than the local legal minimum wage to workers at company-owned stores. The average hourly rate for workers at company-owned restaurants will climb to more than $10 per hour by the end of 2016, the firm said.
It added that some employees at company-owned restaurants will start to accumulate paid leave starting in July. McDonald's said that it will expand high school completion and college tuition assistance for all U.S. employees.
The world's largest restaurant chain has gone through a bevy of changes in recent months as it looks to combat sluggish sales. Its global comparable sales dropped 1 percent in fiscal 2014.
McDonald's announced in January that then-CEO Don Thompson would retire after two years on the job. Easterbrook—who previously was chief brand officer—took over on March 1.
Earlier this week, the company said it would test all-day breakfast in the San Diego area. Additionally, it said it would introduce table service in Germany.
McDonald's shares are up nearly 3 percent this year.
—CNBC's Katie Little contributed to this report