A Year in Review: Strong Fundamentals Fuel 2019

January 31, 2020

(Rock County, WI) According to the quarterly release of the Rock Ready Index, the economy of the Janesville-Beloit MSA wrapped-up the year in a very strong economic position. Highlights from the Q4 2019 report are provided below.

Unemployment rates for the quarter, as well as well as for the entire year, remained below four percent at the local, state and national levels. As a matter of fact, the annual average rates for 2019 and 2018 were nearly identical, with only a few tenths of one percentage point separating the two calendar years. Meanwhile, the number of regional job posting recorded in 2019 were 18% higher than the previous year. This jump in job postings helped boost the average number of monthly page views recorded on www.JobsInRockCounty.com to nearly 14,000.

Home pricing continued to rise, as new quarterly and year-end benchmarks were once again established. While average sale prices peaked above $192,300 in Q4 for the first time ever, median sale prices surpassed the $170,000 mark for the second consecutive quarter during 2019. These year-end price points represented an eight percent increase from last year’s prices.

Sales and use tax collections remained strong, as the Q4 ($3.91 Million) and year-end ($14.88 Million) figures set new records. Since 2015, these collections have been increasing (on average) about five percent each year. Although collections are relatively steady throughout the year, Q3 and Q4 remain the more robust collection periods.

Investment appetites, as measured by the economic development pipeline, were damped during Q4. This is not a new trend, as the last quarter historically lags the remainder of the year. Despite this tempered activity level, 2019’s square footage, capital investments and job counts outpaced the annual totals recorded during the last five years. No doubt, the combined impacts of the trade war, the impeachment hearings and heightened unrest in the Middle East are impacting investor sentiments.

The Rock Ready Index (RRI) is a quarterly economic development dashboard compiled and distributed by the Rock County Development Alliance. The RRI covers four topical areas: Workforce (Job Postings and Unemployment Rates), Real Estate (Residential, Commercial or Industrial) Trends, Sales (Tax Collection) Activities and a snapshot of the ED Pipeline’s growth and/or investment opportunities. Each Index also includes a Project Profile section, which highlights project-specific news during a given quarter.