I should have thought more deeply about what economists mean when they talk about "recession." The standard definition is "two down quarters of GDP."
I didn't think about the definition of GDP. According to wikipedia:
The most common approach to measuring and quantifying GDP is the expenditure method:Raise government spending, you raise GDP (by definition, assuming you're not crowding out private investment), and voila-- the recession is over! It's simple!
GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports − imports)
The government has been spending lots and lots of money, and yet unemployment continues to rise. I think it's time to either redefine "recession" or come up with a more relevant measure of how the economy's doing; the current definition make it way too easy for governments to game the numbers and declare "Mission Accomplished, Economy Back On Track."