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Report: Income Inequality At Highest Levels Since 1920s

The income gap in the U.S. is the biggest that it has been since the 1920s, while income inequality has steadily increased over the last several decades, a new report found.

The paper, published by EPI for the Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN), analyzed IRS data of income inequality trends between 1917 and 2012 and found that the top 1 percent of taxpayers have seen their incomes grow after the Great Recession alarmingly faster than the rest of Americans have in every single state except West Virginia.

"State leaders and policymakers need to realize that inequality is a problem everywhere," said Keystone Research Center economist Mark Price, who contributed to the report, according to the EPI release. "If states are not passing progressive taxes and raising revenue from top earners, they are missing out on a large and growing source of income."

Indeed, while all income levels dropped sharply during the recession, 100 percent of income growth went to the top 1 percent in 17 states, while a majority went to the highest earners in 39 states.

The report comes amid scrutiny regarding President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet selection, as Democrats and Republicans alike question whether the billionaire will help or harm the middle class -- particularly after his selection of Wall Street banker Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner, notes NPR. Trump has promised that Mnuchin, his former campaign finance chairman, will "build a dynamic, booming economy that will create millions of jobs," as the middle- and lower-classes look to the president-elect to implement change in the face of income stagnation.

The disparity began long before the economy took a hit, with the top 1 percent earning 54 percent of the total U.S. income increases between 1979 and 2007, notes the Economic Policy Institute. Their incomes grew by more than 200 percent, while the other 99 percent saw a 19 percent increase during that same period.

"Every state and every region in the United States is going to have to grapple with the effects of rising inequality," said Estelle Sommeiller, a socio-economist at the Institute for Research in Economic and Social Sciences in Greater Paris, France, who co-wrote the analysis. "Our study paints a picture of the top 1 percent in each state. While there are differences from the 1 percent nationally, no state has escaped the troubling growth of inequality."

Sources: Economic Policy Institute, NPR / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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