In an article called "Off the Charts", Floyd Norris wanted to let readers know that unemployment does not hit citizens equally -- it affects some age groups and men/women to differing degrees.
As befits the article's title, he included several charts, from which I extracted the one shown on the right. At first glance, this seems like a normal chart.
But when one pays attention, one notices that the chart is rather complicated. This chart is like a piece of modern music, in which the composer allows two voices to jar and talk past one another.
Think of it as a data table vying for attention with a bar chart. The data table is a cross-tabulation of the change in employment by age and gender. In this view, the men sit on the left, and the women on the right.
Lurking around is a bar chart, for which the point of zero change sits in the middle. Positive growth extends to the right, while negative growth points to the left. The gender labels at the top are irrelevant for this bar chart: the narrow black bars indicate women, the fat colored ones, men. The data labels are also irrelevant: see, for example, the 45-54 age group, the label for females, at -2.3, should really be placed on the left side of the middle divide!
Here is how these two charts look, disentangled: (I have converted the bar chart to a dot chart.)
Reference: "Off the Charts: Job losses mount, enduring and deep", New York Times, Nov 14 2009.