SUNCOAST - Construction payrolls continue to grow faster in Southwest Florida than in the rest of the nation.

Contractors in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties hired 2,300 additional workers during the 12–month period ended in May, according to the Herald Tribune.

The Sarasota–Manatee metro area generated 1,800 of those jobs, a 7% growth rate that tied for 52nd out of 358 metro areas in the country.

Charlotte County's 500 new construction jobs ranked 12th, with a 12% annual gain.

Florida ranked 15th in the U.S. with 5% growth in construction employment, adding 28,000 jobs over the year.

Nationwide, construction employment grew by 3%, or 215,000 jobs.

In Sarasota–Manatee, the labor force for the industry was still short of the May high of 32,200 in 2006 before the real estate market crashed. The low point for May was 13,800 jobs in 1993, the contractors group said.