A nutritional rating system using gold stars affixed to price labels on grocery store shelves appears to have shifted buying habits, potentially providing another tool to educate consumers on how to eat healthier, according to a new study.
The independent study examining a proprietary gold star system used in Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets suggested it steered shoppers away from items with no stars toward healthier foods that merited gold stars.
“Our results suggest that point-of-sale nutrition information programs may be effective in providing easy-to-find nutrition information that is otherwise nonexistent, difficult to obtain or difficult to understand,” the researchers wrote in the study, published last week in the journal Food Policy.
It’s the most rigorous scientific study focusing on Guiding Stars, which was instituted in 2006 in Hannaford stores and is now licensed for use in more than 1,800 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Job openings rise,
but hiring flat
U.S. employers advertised more jobs in August but hiring was essentially flat, further evidence of a job market that has weakened after a promising start to the year.
The Labor Department said Thursday that job postings rose 75,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.9 million in August. July’s total was revised much higher to 3.8 million. Still, the number of job openings has changed little since February.
Employers hired 4.5 million people in August, about the same as the previous month.
More people are quitting their jobs, a positive sign that signals growing confidence in the job market. Most people quit when they have a new job or believe they will be able to find one. Total quits have jumped 7.2 percent in July and August to 2.35 million, the highest level in nearly five years.
In a healthy economy, between 2.5 million and 3 million people quit their jobs.
The figures come after this week’s disappointing jobs report. Employers added just 148,000 jobs in September, the government said Tuesday. That’s below the 193,000 gained in August. The unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent from 7.3 percent.
jobless benefits drop
The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 last week, though the total was elevated for the third straight week by technical problems in California.
The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average jumped by nearly 11,000 to 348,250.
Weekly applications have been inflated for the past three weeks, largely because California has been processing a huge number of applications that were delayed because of a computer upgrade. The 16-day partial government shutdown has also lifted claims this month because a number of government contractors were laid off temporarily.
A government spokesman said the backlog in California affected last week’s figures but noted shutdown’s impact appears to be fading.