North Staffordshire industriees of the 20th century included the potteries (ceramics), coal mining and steel production. Pottery companies from the area include Royal Doulton, Wedgwood, Portmerrion, Wade and the Johnson Brothers, who were all based in the pottery towns in North Staffordshire. By 2002 there had been a complete loss of coal mining and steel production. Ceramics production once employed 70,000 in around 200 firms, but at 2011 there were only 30 large firms remaining. Major employment sectors are now distribution, leisure, online services, higher education, healthcare, engineering, and a diminished ceramics sector.
Transport for the area during the Industrial Revolution was initially based on canals from the 18th century, with the Trent and Mersey canal connecting the Mersey with the River Trent. The restored canals now offer green leisure transport routes, and they carry around 10,000 narrowboat pleasure trips each year. The Railways arrived in the 1850s. Railways still serve the area, with frequent intercity trains from Stoke-on-Trent to London, Birmingham and Birmingham International Airport, and Manchester as well as the East-West line linking to Crewe and Derby via Uttoxeter. The area is served by the M6 motorway and the A50 dual carriageway, making an easy drive from the East Midlands Airport to the East, Manchester to the North, and Birmingham to the South.