All midlife and older Americans have been feeling the impact of the recession. But the effects have been even harsher for African-American and Hispanic retirees and baby boomers heading for retirement, according to New America Media‘s Paul Kleyman.

Citing AARP’s “Closer Look” survey of almost 1,000 Americans ages 45 or older, Kleyman writes that in the past year ethnic boomers and elders have struggled to pay their medical costs; had trouble paying for food, heating and other essential needs; lost jobs or saw their hours cut; and were compelled to hunt for affordable housing in greater percentages than their white counterparts.

“We are seeing a disappearing middle class,” stated David Certner, legislative policy director of AARP.

Social and economic differences long preceded the recession, but Certner said the “differences have been exacerbated for African Americans and Hispanics.”

In particular, Kleyman writes that Certner was surprised by findings showing large percentages of people who were not confident they could cover the cost of a major illness or would be able to afford their retirement. Although one in four whites doubted their ability to pay the cost of a serious illness through insurance or savings, more than four in 10 African Americans and two out of three Latinos had little or no confidence they would be protected.