HOUSTON - Employers added fewer than half the jobs that were expected in December, but the nation's unemployment rate still fell significantly. One explanation comes from people deciding to follow their own passions.
As millions continue to leave their jobs, as part of the Great Resignation, many are deciding they want to work for themselves.
Dan Regalia of Katy, who got a buy-out when his employer consolidated, and Spring's Mike Moyers, who just had enough of the rat race, are two of those people.
In the middle of the pandemic, Moyers decided there had to be a better, more-rewarding use of his time. So he traded his 9-to-5 job for something that occupied his off-hours: fixing bicycles that people bring to his garage workshop. His business, The Bike Mechanic, was born.
"I'd rather put in the hard work and do a great job for myself, for my own benefit, for the benefit of my customers," he says.
Regalia's story is a little different. When he decided there wasn't room for him to grow as an oil and gas IT specialist, he found satisfaction in his own workshop, where he homebrews beer and made beer-tap handles for friends.
He discovered there was a significant market for the custom-decorated pieces of wood. So far, Texas TapHandles has made about 2,500 of them.
"Making a tap handle is finite," says Regalia. "You do it; you build it; you get it done, and you see your work when you go out with your friends to get a beer and say, 'Hey, that's mine'."
Really that's the essence for entrepreneurs: striking out on their own to rely on themselves, doing something they love, and finding satisfaction that may not be reflected in national statistics.
"It's not getting rich, by any stretch of the imagination, but this is my passion," says Moyers. "I'm doing what I love, now, and I'm making it work."
While neither business is breaking the bank, both budding entrepreneurs say they are busy, and each is considering how much to grow to accommodate the demand for their work.