According to the Times, the most recent four-month period, boxed in red below, represents a manufacturing recession; The Times has already declared it ("For Manufacturing, a Recession Has Arrived"; link may require registration):
But the following periods boxed in orange from 1995-2000 did not:
Source and Explanation: Historical Table of the Institute for Supply Management's Monthly PMI Manufacturing Index. Readings above 50 represent expansion. Those below 50 represent contraction. According to ISM (scroll down at link), "A PMI in excess of 41.9 percent, over a period of time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. Therefore, the PMI indicates that both the overall economy and the manufacturing sector are growing."
Also: In a Proquest Library search of the Times for articles containing both "manufacturing" and "recession" from 1/1/1995 to 1/1/2001, I found no declarations that the manufacturing sector was actually in a recession -- only a few saying that it might get to that point.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.