Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) Bill Gates, Inc.’s (AMZN) Jeff Bezos and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s (BRK.A) Warren Buffett collectively own more wealth than the poorest half of the American population, a new study exploring the topic of inequality has found.

The Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, found that the three richest Americans, Gates, Bezos and Buffett, now sit on a combined fortune in excess of $248.5 billion, making them collectively wealthier than the poorest 160 million Americans — half of the country’s population. The study, titled "Billionaire Bonanza," also found that the richest 25 billionaires own $1 trillion in wealth, the same amount as 56 percent of the the population, or 178 million people.

The think tank, which drew upon data from the most recent Forbes 400 list and the Federal Reserve's 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances, said the world hasn’t seen such concentrated wealth since the first Gilded Age a century ago. It went on to warn that President Donald Trump’s tax change proposals would “exacerbate existing wealth disparities” even more by ensuring that 80 percent of tax benefits end up going to the wealthiest 1 percent of households.

“Wealth inequality is on the rise,” said Chuck Collins, an economist and co-author of the study. “Now is the time for actions that reduce inequality, not tax cuts for the very wealthy." The report added: “Our wealthiest 400 now have more wealth combined than the bottom 64 percent of the U.S. population, an estimated 80 million households or 204 million people. That’s more people than the population of Canada and Mexico combined.”

To emphasize its point on how the “billionaire class continue to pull apart from the rest of us,” the think tank pointed out that the net worth of Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, has already increased a further $7 billion since the Forbes 400 list was published in October. According to Forbes's real-time estimates, Bezos is worth $95 billionGates is worth $89 billion and Buffett is worth $79 billion. (See also: Jeff Bezos: Trillionaire By 2042?)

While the rich keep getting richer, the Institute for Policy Studies claimed that 60 percent of the population don’t even have enough savings to cover emergencies. The bottom 19 percent of Americans are financially underwater, the report said. Black and Latino households were identified as the worst off, with 30 percent and 27 percent of them, respectively, perceived to be financially underwater. (See also: Buffett Slams Wealth Inequality, Calls GOP Health Bill 'Relief for the Rich')

“Families with no financial reserves face enormous stress," the report said. "Reserves amount to life preservers for people who experience job loss, illness, divorce, or even car trouble. Even those low- and middle-income families who do have some wealth often don't have any liquid assets — cash or savings — at their disposal. Over 60 percent of Americans report not having enough savings to cover a $500 emergency."

To combat further increases in wealth inequality, the Institute for Policy Studies urged the government to introduce new tax strategies. They include raising taxes on higher incomes, increasing capital gains tax rates and expanding the estate tax.

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