The Garden State is moving in the wrong direction because public sector job losses are hurting the economy according to a new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), liberal Trenton think-tank. U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, one of Chris Christie’s most vocal opponents is using the study to lob haymakers at the Governor.

The study contends that if not for the loss of public-sector jobs, New Jersey’s 2011 unemployment rate would be more than a full percentage point lower ­– 8 percent instead of 9.3 percent and that rate would be even lower when accounting for the effect of public-sector job loss on private-sector employment.

“This is shocking,” says Lautenberg. “Governor Christie’s attacks to public workers have caused a whole percentage point to our unemployment rate.”

NJPP’s report says that since the recession began in 2007, 20,800 public sector jobs have been lost through layoffs and attrition. It goes on to state that another method for measuring the full impact of the recession is to compare actual jobs with the number of jobs that would have been created had the recession not hit. Using that math the study says based on normal growth between 2000 and the start of the recession New Jersey would have created an additional 40,400 jobs meaning the “potential” loss of public sector jobs since the recession was 61,200 through 2011. That means the drop in the 2011 unemployment rate the study cites is based on over 40,000 jobs that never really existed.

Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman says, “This is partisan blather, based on a stunningly unrealistic worldview that all things can be solved by bloated, ever-expanding state and local government and all the costs that come with it. Governor Christie is proud of his record in reining in New Jersey’s out-of-control government spending and his policies to put the state on a sustainable fiscal path leading in the long term to a healthier and more pro-growth economic climate for New Jersey.”