Economic Report: Steady Growth, Continued Investment

August 6, 2023

(Rock County, WI) Additional records were set for the Janesville-Beloit MSA during the second quarter of the year, which have increasingly commonplace due to the area’s strong economy. These items, as well as others, are highlighted in this week’s release of the Q2 2023 Rock Ready Index.

The average annual unemployment rate rose incrementally for both the state and the county during the first half of 2023, as the month of June recorded the highest rate bumps of the year at seven-tenths and six-tenths of a percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the federal rate – which was already trending upward during this period – recorded a smaller month of June increase of only four-tenths of a percent. Job posting activities inched upward by recording roughly 1,500 more “Help Wanted” messages than the previous quarter.

Residential pricing continued to rise, as Q2 set a new quarterly record. On average, home pricing in the Janesville-Beloit MSA is running about nine-percent higher than a year ago; and slightly more than 10% above the average pricing recorded three months ago. With respect to the housing stock, the second quarter of the year is historically the most active and Q2 2023 fit that profile. Compared to a year ago, new home starts for Q2 were about 44% higher. When comparing quarterly figures for this calendar year, twice as many permits were issued in Q2 than a quarter ago.

The County’s sales and use tax collections for Q2 established a new quarterly benchmark and nearly matched the highest (all-time) figures recoded since this tax was originally introduced 16 years ago. These collections were about seven-percent higher than a year ago and nearly five-percent higher than Q1. Strong economic fundamentals locally, coupled with favorable weather for all-things related to fee-based outdoor venues and/or activities, were important contributing factors.

While the confidence level in the national economy, as reported by the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators and the ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index(PMI) continued to signal anemic forecasts, the pipeline activity level for the Janesville-Beloit MSA showed significant improvement. Specifically, total square footage was more than four times higher in Q2 than Q1. This same general trend was present in the capital investment and employment categories too, where activity levels were between three and five times higher, respectively. The manufacturing sector continued to flex its muscles, as 70% of the activity in Q2 was associated with manufacturing related investments.

A prime example of this activity was highlighted in this quarter’s Project Profile. Charter Next Generation (CNG) announced it was expanding its presence in the Milton Crossroads Business Park by another 200,000 SF – as well as committing to future investments at its other WI locations too. Since planting its first investment flag in Milton more than 25 years ago, CNG has continued to grow both its local and statewide footprints.

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