Vietnam is a country which has shown high rates of economic growth in the past 20 years. The absolute level of incomes and of the standard of living is still low, however. There is hope that the situation will improve in the future, though in the current period unpleasant signs of an economic crisis are visible. As a consequence of important reform steps, many structural parameters of the Vietnamese economy have adapted to the new institutional setting of a market system. This paper presents a regional case study of the labour market of Vinh City in central Vietnam and its socio-economic context. By covering over 12 000 individuals in two surveys it is possible to identify precisely the changes that have taken place within a time span of six years. On the basis of the data the structure and dynamics of a regional economy can be assessed. It is possible to find answers to many important questions which concern the whole of Vietnam. The results of the study reflect a remarkable development process.