In the past few years the county has seen a housing boom due to its proximity to Lake Oconee as well as major employment centers such as Atlanta, Athens, and Macon.
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,812 people, 7,402 households, and 5,477 families residing in the county. The population density was 55 people per square mile (21/km²). There were 10,319 housing units at an average density of 30 per square mile (12/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 67.45% White, 29.90% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.82% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. 2.16% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 7,402 households out of which 28.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.80% were married couples living together, 12.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.00% were non-families. 22.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the county the population was spread out with 23.20% under the age of 18, 7.70% from 18 to 24, 27.00% from 25 to 44, 28.00% from 45 to 64, and 14.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 97.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.40 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $36,956, and the median income for a family was $43,262. Males had a median income of $30,900 versus $21,823 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,161. About 10.50% of families and 14.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.80% of those under age 18 and 9.80% of those age 65 or over.