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(Rock County, WI) No doubt, the elements of uncertainty and skepticism weaved their way into the economy during the third quarter of this calendar year. Despite those macro-level conditions, the local economy managed to generate a few noteworthy benchmarks. These items, as well as others, are highlighted in today's release of the Q3 2022 Rock Ready Index.

The area’s average annual unemployment rate continued to effectively hold steady at 3.8%; and these same general trends were present at the state and federal levels too. Although it seems almost light-years away, these rates are very similar to the rates recorded during YR 2019. Regional job postings, while still strong at nearly 30,000 each quarter, continued moving in a downward trend - particularly when comparing previous reporting periods. For example, between YR 2017-2021, the average job posting figure was approximately 32,600 per quarter. Despite this fluctuation, though, the leading job opening categories have consistently been associated with Healthcare, Logistics, Production, Management and Sales Occupations.

During Q3 2022, the pricing of residential properties set a new, all-time record high for both Average Sale Price ($263,115) and Median Sale Price ($244,000), respectively. Compared to a year ago, Q3's pricing was more 20% higher locally and nearly 10% higher than the pricing recorded statewide. With respect to transaction volumes, Q3 2022 trended about 15% higher when compared to last quarter. A year ago, though, transactions were trending about 13% higher. Permit activities, while down roughly 27% compared to last year, were approximately 16% higher than the previous quarter. Without question, the impact of the mortgage rate climb to their highest level in 21-years was definitely felt locally. 

Interestingly enough, the rising cost of money wasn't necessarily curbing consumer spending. While spending nationally inched upward by 1.4% during Q3, it jumped by more than eight percent locally - as measured by the County's sales and use tax collections. As a matter of fact, the $5 Million plus collected during Q3 represents the highest quarterly collections recorded in Rock County. Whether the second-half of the year lives up to its historical trajectory of strong collections remains TBD, as continued concerns with national economic and political conditions could quickly translate into household belt-tightening. 

While the residential market and local cash registers were establishing new records during Q3 2022, the investment and development pipeline began to exhibit stress lines. Not only were the number of projects smaller than previous quarters, but so too were project sizes. Case in point: the Q3 2022 pipeline was generally populated with developments that were smaller (in terms of square footage); had less employment or staffing needs; and possessed leaner real and personal property investment forecasts. These overall slowing trends were echoed by Q3 2022 data released by the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators and the ISM Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), as well. Fortunately, there was more than an ample backlog of projects held over from YR 2020-2021 to keep the local industrial and warehousing segments active during Q3.

Since it is not very often that a privately-held company is able to celebrate its 150th anniversary, this quarter's Project Profile is dedicated to Beloit's Fairbanks Morse Defense (FMD). With roots in platform scales and windmills, as well as other motion-orientated applications, FMD has evolved into a premiere naval engine supplier. This recognition was officially memorialized earlier this year with the christening and launching of the USS Beloit. An impressive tribute to the area's manufacturing history; and a huge nod to FMD's role in supporting U.S. national security interests. 

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 www.RockCountyAlliance.com .

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