NEW YORK — Gains in retail sales and employment continued to propel San Diego growth, surging the city past other metropolitan centers that showed signs of economic slowdown, according to a study released Wednesday.
San Diego's gains in retail sales and employment were the highest among 24 cities recorded in a study by the accounting firm Grant Thornton.
Along with San Diego, the economies of Houston and Miami showed the most improvement, while Los Angeles and Detroit displayed more moderate strength.
But such cities were the exception to the rule as Thornton's index of seven economic vital signs for the two dozen U. S. metropolitan areas registered a negative reading in this year's first quarter. It was only the second time in the past 17 quarters that the growth yardstick has pointed downward.
Nineteen cities posted declines in their individual indexes based on statistics collected for their areas.
The index showed that the average growth rate of 24 cities declined 0.30 points in the first quarter from 1988's final quarter, to 108.8. The previous decline occurred in the second quarter of 1987.
Houston's economy improved for the fifth straight quarter, according to Grant Thornton, which said the achievement has been surpassed only by San Diego. In the 12 months ended March 31, Houston's economic growth was greater than that of all the cities studied except San Diego, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit.
San Francisco, the only other California city studied by Grant Thornton, saw its first-quarter index value dip.
At the other end of the spectrum, Baltimore's index value dropped the most of the 19 cities that posted declines in the first quarter. Baltimore was followed by St. Louis, Seattle, Chicago and Cincinnati.
The economic indicators that are used to rank the cities include factory hours, non-farm employment, construction permits, retail sales, business starts and failures and money supply.
Grant Thornton, founded in 1924, provides accounting, audit, tax and management consulting services in more than 50 countries.