New figures from the Office of Personnel Management show that the executive branch work force continued to shrink in the 1996-1998 period with slight increases in the percentages of employees in white-collar positions. Total employment declined by 4.5 percent to just above 1.8 million in the two years ending September 30, 1998, said OPM, and the percentage of employees who are white-collar rose from 85.9 percent to 86.7 percent. The male-female ratio remained unchanged at 56-44 percent while the percentage of jobs held by women in the general schedule and related grades 12-15 rose to 31.3 percent compared to 29.6 percent in 1996. The percentage of minorities also increased slightly, to 29.6 percent, as did their percentages in higher-paying jobs. The average age of a federal employee is now about 45, up about a year in the measuring period.