Ireland over the period from 1995 to 2012 saw a remarkable economic boom followed by deep recession, going together with dramatic fluctuations in employment levels, major changes in the composition of the labour force and in occupation and social class structures. Collective bargaining and social partnership were central throughout the boom but collapsed at the onset of recession; a national minimum wage introduced in 2001 was key to subsequent trends in earnings dispersion. Over the entire period from 1995 to 2012, middle-income groups fared well relative to the rest of the distribution. Income dynamics in boom and bust are however central to understanding trends, with some types of households doing much better in the boom, while the bust also affected some groups much more severely than others. The impact of public expenditure on public services is also a core element of middle-income living standards.