15 Fascinating Wisconsin Small Business Statistics


Wisconsin is the 21st largest economy in the US, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $338 billion. The per capita personal income was $55,487 in 2020. In January 2021, the unemployment rate in the Badger State was 3.8%, which was lower than the national average of 6.3%.

Manufacturing has a huge presence in Wisconsin. It represents 20% of the state's GDP and employs nearly 458,000 workers. Some of the notable companies in the industry include Kohler Company, Mercury Marine, Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls, John Deere, Briggs & Stratton, Milwaukee Electric Tool Company, Caterpillar Inc., Joy Global, Oshkosh Corporation and Harley-Davidson. 

Small business owners choose to set up shop in Wisconsin for a number of reasons, including access to support agencies, a good transportation infrastructure, a rich manufacturing history, and a renewed commitment to entrepreneurs and start-ups. To keep the tradition alive and bring in new opportunities, Wisconsin offers significant tax incentives to retain the work in the state. 

Here is a list of small business statistics from the state of Wisconsin:

  • There are 456,884 small businesses in Wisconsin that represent 99.4% of all businesses in the state.
  • Wisconsin residents launch around 40,000 new businesses each year.
  • To form a corporation in Wisconsin, you need to file your Articles of Incorporation with the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). The filing fee is $100.
  • Small businesses in Wisconsin employ 1.4 million workers who account for 45.9% of the entire state workforce.
  • Three industries have the highest number of small business employees:
    • Manufacturing — 205,883
    • Health Care and Social Assistance — 175,855
    • Accommodation and Food Services — 168,099
  • There are 7,607 small business exporters in the state of Wisconsin who account for 28.4% of the state’s $20.6 billion worth of export revenue.
  • In order to form an LLC (limited liability company) in Wisconsin, you need to file your Articles of Organization with the Department of Financial Institutions. The filing fee is $130 for online filing or $170 when filing by mail.
  • Self-employed individuals at their own incorporated businesses have a median income of $51,000. That's $26,000 more than those without incorporated businesses.
  • The corporate franchise tax in Wisconsin is imposed at a rate of 7.9%. Returns and payments are due by the 15th day of the 4th month following the close of a corporation's fiscal year.
  • Wisconsin has what is known as the “economic surplus charge,” which is a type of tax that applies to C corporations and most S corporations with at least $4 million or more in gross receipts. The surcharge is the greater of 3% of net business income attributable to Wisconsin or 25%.
  • There are 26,623 self-employed minorities in Wisconsin. They represent 5.8% of all small business owners in the state.
  • In 2018, banks in Wisconsin gave out 78,300 loans under $100,000 to small businesses while reporting under the Community Reinvestment Act. The total value of the loans was $1.1 billion.
  • Private-sector employment in Wisconsin decreased 15.6% during the 12-month period ending in April 2020.
  • Five industries comprise the largest share of small businesses:
    • Other services (except public administration) — 62,723
    • Professional, scientific, and technical services — 55,100
    • Construction — 51,952
    • Retail trade — 51,042
    • Real estate, rental, and leasing — 45,473


About The Author