The number of jobs in the metropolitan area grew twice as fast as the population between 1960 and 1984, reflecting a dramatic increase in the number of women in the labor force and a fundamental change in the composition of the population, according to a new summary by the Greater Washington Research Center Inc.

The report, in a newsletter commemorating the center's 25th anniversary, offers a snapshot of a vastly different metropolitan region, focusing on principal economic and social changes, as well as demographic ones, that have occurred during the past 25 years.

The report was compiled by The Grier Partnership, consultants to the center, from data from the District government and federal agencies.

The report shows that there were 141.2 percent more jobs in 1984 than in 1960, compared with a 70.2 percent growth in the population for the same period.

A parallel increase in the number of women in the labor force accounts for much of the increase in employment, the report said. The number of working women, it said, increased 155.5 percent over the period, more than in any other major metropolitan area.

"In 1960, less than half (44.5 percent) of all Washington area women were in the labor force," the report said. "By 1984, the proportion was almost two-thirds (65.4 percent)."

A more subtle, but equally dramatic, explanation for the increase in jobs is "the aging of the Washington population," said Philip M. Dearborn, vice president of the center.

The working-age population has grown faster than the population as a whole, while the birth rate and the number of children has been declining, he said.

Other findings of the report include:

*Most area residents are living better today than they did in 1960, despite inroads made by inflation. In constant 1984 dollars, average per-capita income rose 70 percent, from $9,506 in 1959 to $16,173.

*The number of households has grown far more rapidly than the population, showing a lower marriage rate, more marital breakups and fewer children per household.

*The result of adding six counties to the metropolitan area over the 25-year period has increased a number of costs.

Because density for the region as a whole dropped with the addition of less populated counties, such as Stafford and Calvert, government costs, including those for infrastructure improvements, have increased.

"The area has become so different as to be almost unrecognizable to anyone who saw it last 25 years ago," the report concluded.

Reynolds Metals Co. in Richmond has purchased a minority interest in two European aluminum-can manufacturing plants from Kaiser Aluminum Europe for an undisclosed price.

Details of the sale were not released.

Kaiser Aluminum Europe, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp., sold its 40-percent interest in the operations of Gerro Kaiser Dosenwerk GmbH & Co. KG in West Germany and Austria Dosen GES MBH & Co. KG in Austria.

The Gerro Kaiser plant produces 760 million cans a year, while the Austrian plant produces 360 million cans annually.

The Public Broadcasting Service recently launched a 15-week demonstration of the National Narrowcast Service, an innovative effort to deliver video-based educational and training programs to employes at their place of work.

The 15-week demonstration offers subscribers a total of five hours of programming, five days a week in computer literacy and applications, marketing and communications, management and supervision and various other current issues affecting the broadcasting business.

Using several technologies, including microwave channels, addressable cable and direct satellite broadcasts, the programs will go directly to each subscriber's worksite, where they may be viewed or taped for later use.

"Over 120 businesses and agencies are participating, along with over 40 colleges and universities," said Gail Arnall, director of NNS.

The list of subscribers includes Chrysler Corp., Dow Chemical Co., Burroughs Corp. and 3M Corp.

Businesses, colleges and universities in 21 test markets are participating in the spring demonstration, PBS said. NNS plans a nationwide service for the fall.

The subscription fee for NNS, which varies between $200 to $5,000, is based upon the number of employes at the subscriber's site.

In addition to the programming, NNS is offering five national closed-circuit teleconferences on current business issues, including "AIDS in the Workplace" and "Product Liability."

Syscon Corp., a Washington computer-software developer primarily for the military, has been awarded a seven-year, $13.6-million contract to provide support and computer-maintenance services for 18 sites of the Navy's Aviation Training Support Systems.

Atlantic Research Corp., the Alexandria rocket maker and diversified-services company, has won a $54 million contract from LTV Aerospace and Defense Co. The contract is the fourth yearly increment in an extended contract to supply propulsion for the Army's Multiple Launch Rocket System.

Techmatics Inc., a technical-services firm in Arlington has received a three-year, $1.2-million contract to provide engineering support for Navy ships and combat systems.