Economic Report: Conditions & Opportunities Drive Investments

November 16, 2023

(Rock County, WI) Additional records were set for the Janesville-Beloit MSA during the third quarter of the year, which represents a trend that’s been present throughout the entire year. These highlights, as well as other developments, are featured in this week’s release of the Q3 2023 Rock Ready Index.

The (average) annual unemployment rates remained relatively stable, with a slightly more pronounced movement present at the state level versus what was recorded for both the county and national rates, respectively. During Q3 2023, the state of Nevada posted the highest rate of 5.4%; meanwhile, Maryland held the lowest spot at 1.7%. WI’s rate during this period was 3.2% and the U.S. rate was at 3.7%, accordingly.

Locally, the Q3 2023 rate for the Janesville-Beloit MSA was 3.8%. Immediately south of the Stateline, the Rockford MSA rate was at 7%. Job posting activities were basically steady during the month, as demand remained tempered compared to previous quarters (with the notable exception of Q1 2023).

Residential pricing continued to rise, as Q3 set a new quarterly record. On average and from the lens of the third quarter, home pricing in the Janesville-Beloit MSA is running about 4% higher than a year ago and more than 23% above Q3 2021’s pricing. With respect to the housing stock, elevated interest rates continued to impact new home starts locally. While the quarterly new start permit average for 2023 and 2022 are effectively the same, this rate is nearly 26% lower than 2021’s new start activities. In terms of transactions, home sales for Q3 2023 were higher than three months ago, but roughly 20% lower than last year.

The County’s sales and use tax collections for Q3 established a new quarterly and all-time benchmark, at slightly above $5.08 Million. Each quarter in 2023 has established a new record and if the projections hold for the remaining three months, the annual collections total could potentially exceed the $20 Million mark – which would represent a new record. Fingers crossed the National Federation of Retailers’ (bullish) predictions materialize.  

According to data reported by the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators and the ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index(PMI), the outlook for the U.S. economy is increasingly pessimistic. These sentiments are evident in the types of investments moving through the Janesville-Beloit MSA economic development pipeline. While there’s strong representation from the manufacturing sector, the size and related impacts of these potential developments were smaller than what was recorded for both 2022 and 2021, respectively. Furthermore, several projects in 2023 have been parked and/or delayed indefinitely until the national interest rate environment and international geo-political climate settles down, accordingly.

Despite these mounting concerns, certain investments and developments are moving forward – and a prime example is this quarter’s Profile, which features Stainless Tank & Equipment (STE). STE’s Beloit expansion and relocation project, which is located at the CTH S and I-39/90 Interchange, represents a significant capital investment in a new, state-of-the-art 345,000 SF (+/-) facility. Initial operations are slated for early 2025, and within a few years STE intends to double its workforce.

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. For more information, visit