National index adds Janesville to improving markets list
Improving economic performance
Rock County was added Thursday to a national list of areas with improving economic performance. Here's how it did on the index:
Housing permits—A 3.9 percent increase from its lowest post-recession point July 31, 2011.
Employment—A 2.2 percent increase from its lowest point Sept. 30, 2011.
House prices—A 7.3 percent increase from its lowest point Jan. 31, 2012.
JANESVILLE A national index of economic indicators has added Janesville to its list of places where things are looking good.
The National Association of Home Builders added the Janesville and Green Bay metropolitan statistical areas to its monthly list, which was announced Thursday. The Janesville area comprises all of Rock County.
Only three areas in Wisconsin are on the list. Appleton joined the list in November.
The fact that the local housing sector was improving has been known for some time, said James Otterstein, economic development manager for Rock County. But Janesville's mention on a national listing could attract the attention of a company looking for a location.
"Any time you can continue to receive recognition and validation from credible, third-party sources, that bodes well," Otterstein said. "The higher the frequency of those types of reports, that helps push the message out to a much broader and diverse audience."
The index, called the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index, was started in September 2011. The association was looking for a way to show that while the national housing statistics might be down, local markets could be up, said Robert Denk, senior economist for the association.
The index tracks three post-recession indicators—housing permits, house prices and employment.
"We were trying to capture when markets in each of these categories are sort of turning the corner," Denk said Thursday.
To be listed on the index, a community must have improved on those indicators for six months.
The index was a way to counter national headlines that showed a depressed housing market because at the same time that national statistics are down, local numbers can be very good, Denk said.
"We tried to identify the best places, the ones that really are turning around and say, ‘Hey forget about the national numbers and look at what's relevant to you, and it's a lot better than you might think it is if you read the national stories,'" Denk said.
The index follows 360 metropolitan statistical areas. It listed 126 of them in November and 201 in December, the biggest monthly increase since it was established.
Denk said the requirement that improvement must continue for six months helps ensure that the communities are on a steady road to recovery. He cautioned, however, that the cold months often bring a chill to the housing market.
"What do we expect going forward? Well, we're sort of cautiously optimistic," Denk said.