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. 

There are a couple of reasons for small business owners to set up shop in the state, such as access to support agencies, a good transportation infrastructure, a rich manufacturing history and a renewed commitment to entrepreneurs and startups. 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:

  1. There are 456,884 small businesses in Wisconsin that represent 99.4% of all businesses in the state.
  1. Wisconsin residents launch around 40,000 new businesses each year.
  1. 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.
  1. Small businesses in Wisconsin employ 1.4 million workers who account for 45.9% of the entire state workforce.
  1. The top three industries with the highest number of small business employees include:
    • Manufacturing – 205,883.
    • Health Care and Social Assistance – 175,855.
    • Accommodation and Food Services – 168,099.
  1. 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.
  1. State law requires that every new Wisconsin LLC designates a Wisconsin registered agent that will be available during regular business hours at a physical address within the state.
  1. 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.
  1. Self-employed individuals at their own incorporated businesses have a median income of $51,000. That is $26,000 more than those without incorporated businesses.
  1. 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 fourth month following the close of a corporation's fiscal year.
  1. 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%.
  1. There are 26,623 self-employed minorities in Wisconsin. They represent 5.8% of all small business owners in the state.
  1. 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.
  1. Private-sector employment in Wisconsin decreased 15.6% during the 12-month period ending in April 2020.
  1. The top five industries with the largest share of small businesses are:
    • 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.


  1. US SBA – Small Business State Statistics
  2. Business News Daily
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