America is entering a new economic normal, a reality where almost everything that should be going up is going down, and everything that should be going down is going up.

The United States begins 2013 in uncharted economic waters; America has never been here before.

Consider, for example, these seven “firsts” for the U.S. economy:

1. All-time record annual average gas price: In 2012, the average cost of a gallon of gas eclipsed the previous record by nine cents, bringing the annual average to $3.60.

2. All-time record food stamp participation: As of last month, for the first time in American history, 47,710,324 individuals — roughly one out of every seven people living in the United States — now receive food stamps.

3. All-time high youth unemployment: In the last four years, average youth unemployment eclipsed the previous record rising to 17.5% — the highest ever in recorded U.S. history.

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