Economic Report: Rock County Finishes YR 2022 Strong, Sets New Records

February 9, 2023

(Rock County, WI)

Despite macro-level conditions and related uncertainty sentiments, the Janesville-Beloit MSA’s economy carved-out some new quarterly and/or year-end records. These items, as well as others, are highlighted in this week’s release of the Q4 2022 Rock Ready Index.

The area’s average annual unemployment rate continued to hover in the mid three-percent range; and these same patterns were present at the state and federal levels too. As a matter of fact, the 2022 year-end rates are reflective of those pre-pandemic rates – particularly those recorded during YR 2019. Meanwhile, regional job postings continued to slide in Q4 for the second calendar year in a row; and the year-end differential between 2022 and 2021 translated into a 18% decline. These tempered job opening figures were not a surprise, especially when considering the Federal Reserve Bank’s inflation reduction playbook. That said, there were no shortages of “Help Wanted” messages circulating through various advertising channels.

Residential pricing remained elevated during Q4, as Average Sale and Median Sale prices were 13% and 12% higher than a year ago. However, year-end transactions were 14% lower in 2022 when compared to a year ago. As matter of fact, the average number of home sales during Q4 slipped to their lowest levels since YR 2015. Elevated interest rates, as well as other interrelated factors, left its mark on the area’s housing stock too. The number of new home permits issued throughout the county was 19% lower in 2022 than in 2021; and about 11% lower than the year-end figures for 2020, as well.

While the holiday season generally tends to mask overall consumer sentiments, national data clearly indicated consumers were cutting back on their discretionary spending. However, that definitely wasn’t the case locally – as the County’s sales and use tax collections scored both a Q4 record (at $5.04 Million) and a year-end record (at $18.9 Million). These gains represented a 10.5% quarterly jump from a year ago; and about a five-percent annual boost from last year, as well.

Looming domestic and international economic uncertainties had an impact on the development pipeline, as the number of investment inquiries were about 50% below their traditional levels. This decline wasn’t entirely unexpected, as data released by the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators and the ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) signaled the economy was cooling. As a matter of fact, the average PMI for 2022 was 11% lower than what was recorded during 2021.

The caveat or silver lining to these figures locally, was this: the projects flowing through the Q4 2022 pipeline were considerably larger than their Q3 counterparts. For context purposes, the total square footage was nearly 55% higher and capital investments were more than 2.5 times larger. That same general trend held true when comparing the Q4 capital investments between 2022 and 2021, as the 2022 data was trending eight percent higher. These differences, in particular, were attributed to the industry sector representation within the 2022 pipeline, as food/beverage and plastics manufacturing are generally considered more capital investment endeavors.

GEA Mechanical Equipment US, Inc. (GEA) is the featured Q4 2022 Project Profile. Their 85,000 SF facility will represent the company’s Separation & Flow Technologies Division. Since this division is anchored by process engineering components and machines (e.g. decanters, homogenizers, pumps, separators and values), GEA’s Janesville operation will be supplying and serving food and beverage companies throughout the U.S.

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 .