Economic Report: New Records, New Opportunities 

May 8, 2023

(Rock County, WI) A pair of new records were set for the Janesville-Beloit MSA during the first quarter of the year. These items, as well as others, are highlighted in this week’s release of the Q1 2023 Rock Ready Index.

The area’s average annual unemployment rate of three-percent (3%) continued to hold at historically low levels. Meanwhile, regional job postings declined for third consecutive quarter. This trend wasn’t unexpected, as the Federal Reserve had been deliberately slowing the economy to bring inflation under control. This collective tightening impacted both the volume and velocity of regional hiring activities. Nevertheless, the average ratio of available jobs to job seekers remained at approximately 2:1.

Residential pricing in Q1 set a new record, as shrinking inventories continued to elevate price points within the Janesville-Beloit MSA. The Average Sale Price for homes during the quarter was 7.5% higher than a year ago; and 20% above the 2021 pricing figures. In addition to less inventory, interest rate hikes continued to create a wake as the number of transactions recorded during Q1 were 13.5% lower than last year, and 21% lower than two years ago. This same downward movement was present when comparing new home permitting data, as well

Although the pace of home buying was cooler to start the year, the overall spending appetite of consumers was quite strong. As a matter of fact, the Q1 sales and use tax collections of $4.73 MM represents Rock County’s third highest quarterly figure since 2007. This upward movement represented a 14.6% jump compared to a year ago.

Continued geopolitical tensions and a slowing national economic conditions impacted Q1’s development and investment activities, as the local economic development pipeline was considerably leaner than previous quarters. Specifically, this slide was the lowest activity level recorded since 2014. Considering the reports released by the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators and the ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a less robust quarter was expected. 

Despite this news, though, the projects and investments within the pipeline were in alignment with the area’s economic base, assets and industry sectors. Case in point: Rock County has an increasingly diversified manufacturing sector and analogous to baseball, the number of plate appearances matter. Therefore, perspective is important and activity level-to-industry sector alignment is a leading economic development success indicator. 

This quarter’s featured Project Profile was NorthStar Medical Radioisotope. For approximately a decade, NorthStar has been continuously building-out its Beloit Gateway Business Park Campus – and another 170,000 SF (+/-) expansion is underway. For a sneak peek into the latest healthcare technology applications and products, make sure to keep NorthStar at the top of your radar screen.

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