Reluctant to Take the Leap

Wisconsin ranks low on nationwide index of entrepreneurship

Tom Giffey

If there’s good news for Wisconsin in the annual state rankings of entrepreneurial activity compiled by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, it’s that Wisconsin DIDN’T land in last place this time around. According to the most recent rankings by the Kansas City, Missouri-based foundation, the Badger State made its way into third-from-last-place by edging out Rhode Island and Virginia in the 2018 data. The Kauffman Foundation’s State Report on Early Stage Entrepreneurship, released in September, describes itself as “a set of measures that represents new business creation in the United States, integrating several high-quality, timely sources of information on early-stage entrepreneurship.” While Wisconsin typically ranks low in the share of residents who take the plunge into creating their own businesses, not everything looks bad for our state in the report: Small Wisconsin firms are more likely to survive than their peers in other states, for example.

Here’s a deeper dive into the rankings ...

Wisconsin’s rank among 50 states and Washington, D.C., on the Kauffman Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Index. The index is based on four indicators: the rate of new entrepreneurs, the “opportunity share” of new entrepreneurs (the share of entrepreneurs driven by the opportunity to start a new business rather than by necessity, like job loss), startup early job creation, and startup early survival rate. Wisconsin was 46th the previous year and dead last in 2016.


Wisconsin’s ranking among the states (and D.C.) for the rate of new entrepreneurs – specifically, the share of adult, non-business owners who begin a business each month. The figure for the Badger State was 0.25% (that’s one-quarter of 1%). California tops the list at 0.45%.


Wisconsin’s rank in startup early job creation, or how many jobs are created by startups per capita. Nationally, startups created 5.2 jobs for every 1,000 people in 2018; in Wisconsin, the figure was 3.9 jobs. Washington, D.C., ranked No. 1 with 11.3 jobs created by startups for every 1,000 residents.


Wisconsin’s rank for the rate of early startup survival: 79.6% of new employer establishments in Wisconsin are still operating after one year. That’s slightly higher than the national rate of 79.4%. Mississippi tops the list at 82% while Missouri is at the bottom with 71%.


Learn more about the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship at indicators.kauffman.org.

Chippewa Valley Start-Up is sponsored by:

Royal Credit Union
200 Riverfront Terrace
Eau Claire, WI

Chippewa Valley Start-Up is sponsored by:

Royal Credit Union
200 Riverfront Terrace
Eau Claire, WI