Median household income in Oconee County in the last Census was $95,064, up from $74,352 in 2010.
A third of those 16 years and older in the county holding jobs were in professional and related occupations (33.4 percent), up from 30.1 percent 10 years earlier.
Only 190 of the employed in the county were in farming or forestry (1.0 percent), but the figure was an increase from 96 (0.6 percent) in 2010.
Less than a quarter of Oconee County’s workers are employed in Oconee County, and 65.3 percent travel 29 or fewer minutes to get to their jobs. Another 23.0 percent travel more than 30 minutes for work.
The median value of a house in the county in 2020 was $304,400, with 74.0 percent of the homeowners having a mortgage, home equity loan, or similar debt.
These descriptions of the county are tucked into the appendices to the 2023 update to the 2018 Comprehensive Plan that Board of Commissioners adopted at its meeting at the beginning of the month.
The appendices also report that the percent of the population listed as “White alone” was 87.7 in 2020, down from 89.4 percent in 2010. The percent listed as “Asian alone” increased to 4.1 percent from 2.8 percent. The percent who listed themselves as Hispanic or Latino increased from 4.4 percent to 5.6 percent.
The population of Oconee County, 39,194 in 2020, is projected to grow to somewhere between 60,500 and 62,000 by 2050. The current estimate for July of 2022 is 43,588.
Comprehensive Plan Update
The Comprehensive Plan update, according to the document approved by the Board of Commissioners on June 6, is intended “to guide land use, development, community improvement, investment, and overall quality of life in the short and long term.”
The “plan identifies key needs and opportunities, sets goals, and recommends policies to achieve them,” according to the document.
“The plan also provides a vision for the community and a rationale for consistent application of regulatory tools such as zoning, and subdivision regulations,” it states.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs required the county to file a five-year update of its 2018 plan. The full plan will be updated in 2028.
Purpose Of Appendices
The appendices, according to the document, present “an inventory and evaluation of existing local conditions that were used, in conjunction with input from the public participation process, to identify needs and opportunities in the Oconee County Comprehensive Plan.”
The appendices includes socioeconomic data, population descriptions and projections, and data on housing, employment, transportation, and other factors.
The Comprehensive Plan uses Jackson and Morgan counties for comparisons since, the plan states, “these are the two closest in size to Oconee County” among neighboring counties.
In 2020, Jackson had a population of 70,467, and Morgan County had a population of 18,832.
The report primarily relies on comparisons of data from the 2010 and 2020 U.S. Census and related Census Bureau surveys focused on that 10-year interval.
The introduction to the Existing Conditions section of the Comprehensive Plan states that SR 316 and U.S. 78 and the county’s proximity to Atlanta and Athens give the county “high potential for accommodating economic growth while upholding the integrity of the county’s culture and small-town and rural area ambiance.”
The expectation is for a “pattern of growth in the future, which makes it imperative that the county prepare for anticipated growth,” the Comprehensive Plan states.
“Changes in the population and socioeconomic characteristics will have tremendous impacts on the social, economic, and physical environment of Oconee County,” the document states.
“As population increases, the county must ensure that its existing facilities and services can accommodate additional demand,” according to the report.
“Different segments of the population will have different needs based on age, income, and other factors, which inevitably shape the demand for housing, services, and infrastructure,” according to the Comprehensive Plan.
Oconee County added 7,686 new residents from 2010 to 2020, for a growth rate of 24.4 percent.
By contrast, Jackson County added 12,120 residents, for a growth rate of 20.8 percent, and Morgan County added 1,091, for a growth rate of 6.1 percent.
Projections indicate that the Oconee County’s population could be more than 62,000 residents by 2050, according to the Comprehensive Plan.
Alternatively, some models predict a slightly lower population in the range of 60,500 to 61,000 residents.
In fact, more extreme models project growth to 80,781 and 153,922 in 2050, but the Comprehensive Plan does not favor these estimates.
Jackson and Morgan Counties are projected to increase in population as well.
On March 30 of 2023, the U.S. Census Bureau released its Vintage estimate of the population in Oconee County that is consistent with the projections of a slowdown in population growth.
Oconee County added 563 residents from July 2021 to July 2022, or a little more than half the 1,102 estimated increase in the county’s population from July 1 of 2020 and July 1 of 2021.
Going back to the 2010 Census, the 563 added residents in this most recent estimate is the smallest number of added new residents in Oconee County per year since 2013, when that same number was added.
Oconee County is home to a growing population of older and elderly residents, the Comprehensive Plan notes in the appendices.
In 2010, 10.2 percent of the population was over the age of 65. In 2020, 15.2 percent of the population was over the age of 65.
In 2010, 5.9 percent of the population was under five years of age. In 2020, that figure was 5.3 percent.
The school age population of those 5 to 17 dropped from 22.8 percent to 21.2 percent in the 10 year interval.
The median age of Oconee County residents increased from 38.9 to 40.1 during the 10 years from 2010 to 2020.
In Jackson and Morgan counties, the median age also increased during this period, but both counties had young populations in 2020 than did Oconee.
Race And Ethnicity
The Census Bureau in 2010 classified 89.4 percent of the Oconee County population as White Alone. In 2020, it classified 87.2 percent of the population as White Alone.
Black or African American Alone dropped from 5.3 percent to 4.9 percent.
Asian Alone increased from 2.8 percent to 4.1 percent.
Two or more races increased from 1.1 percent to 2.8 percent.
The percent listed as of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity grew from 4.4 percent to 5.6 percent, according to the Census Bureau data.
The Comprehensive Plan lists the 2020 Hispanic or Latino population as 6.6 percent in 2020, but this is inconsistent with the Census Bureau data.
The Census Bureau estimate for 2022 is that 5.9 of Oconee County’s population is Hispanic or Latino.
According to the data in the Comprehensive Plan, Oconee County saw a growth in the number of households from 11,155 in 2010 to 13,773 in 2020.
In 2010, the Census Bureau classed 80.0 percent of those households as traditional family households, and the remaining 20.0 percent were classified as non-family households.
The 2020, the percentage of traditional family households was 81.8.
The percentage of one person households dropped from 17.3 to 16.7 in the 10 years from 2010 to 2020.
The number of Owner Occupied Housing Units grew from 9,225 to 11,374 during that time period.
Only 11.5 percent of Owner Occupied Housing Units in 2020 were valued at less than $150,000, and 4.1 percent were valued at $1 million or more.
The median value for a Owner Occupied Housing Unit was $304,400.
The median household income for the 11,155 households in 2010 was $74,352.
The median household income for the 13,773 households in 2020 was $95,064.
The median household income in Jackson County in 2020 was $68,307. In Morgan County, it was $68,669.
The median household income in Oconee County currently ranks as the second highest in the State of Georgia and is 21 percent higher than the regional average, 55 percent higher than the State, and 46 percent more than the U.S., according to the Comprehensive Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan reports that the Working Age Population (16 years old or older) in Oconee County in 2020 consisted of 30,285 individuals, with 19,846 (65.3 percent) in the labor force.
Of those 19,846, a total of 19,259 were employed in the civilian labor force, up from 15,279 in 2010.
The Educational Services and Health Care and Social Assistance industries employed the largest number of these workers, but the percentage decreased from 32.6 to 30.5 percent.
The percentage of the employed in the civilian labor force working in the Finance and Insurance, real Estate and Rental and Leasing industries increased from 4.9 percent in 2010 to 8.6 percent in 2020.
The percentage in Professional, Scientific, Management, and Administrative and Waste Management Services industries increased from 9.9 percent to 12.5 percent.
Of those 19,259 persons in the workforce, the largest group, 33.4 percent, had occupations classified as Professional or Related Occupations. That number had been 30.1 percent 10 years earlier.
The second largest category was Management, Business, And Financial Operations Occupations, with 19.0 percent of the workforce in 2020 and 18.7 percent in 2010.
Sales And Related Occupations made up 11.4 percent of the workforce in 2020. It had made up 11.1 percent 10 years earlier.
Commuting To Work
“The commuting patterns of workers who live in Oconee County and those who come into the county to work provide a clear picture of the extent to which Oconee County is economically intertwined other nearby cities and counties,” according to the Comprehensive Plan.
According to the report, only 22.3 percent of Oconee County’s workers have jobs in Oconee County.
The percent working in Clarke County is 38.7.
The percent working in Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Cobb County, and DeKalb County combined is 13.8.
In 2020, of the employed residents of Oconee County, the largest group (31.0 percent) had a 10-to-19-minute commute, followed by 26.9 percent that had a 20-to-29-minute commute.