The NBER has a long FAQ on what defines a recession that is, as near as I can tell, misleading. The actual definition looks to be based almost solely on industrial production
Basically INDPRO must climb. It doesn't have to be at an all time high so long as it is going up since the last "recession". For instance here reaching 100 means that the US has just now matched the reference year 2007's production and yet the recession was declared over three years ago.
The political implications of this seem clear but I welcome feedback. Basically work (increasingly implausible as fewer humans are involved in these industries) and/or consumer stoppage large enough to affect "the real output of the manufacturing, mining, and electric and gas utilities industries" is the one and only way of having our government even recognize there is a problem.