US CEOs Leaving Jobs at Highest Rate in 10 Years

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The number of U.S. CEOs who lost or left their jobs in October was the second-highest of the year and not far behind the August total that was the highest number on record. According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in the first 10 months of the year, 1,176 CEOs have left their jobs, the highest number since 2008 when 1,257 CEOs left their jobs.

A total of 149 CEOs left their jobs last month, one more than the 148 who left their jobs in September. The August total of 154 remains the year-to-date monthly high.

October’s total represents a year-over-year jump of nearly 42% and a negligible month-over-month increase.

In all of 2017, a total of 1,160 CEOs left their jobs, down 7% from the prior year’s total of 1,248. Of the total, 11 were due to allegations of sexual misconduct, up from three in both 2015 and 2016.

Vice President Andrew Challenger noted:

We haven’t seen these numbers since the height of the recession, but the circumstances couldn’t be more different. … [W]e have seen more leaders stay at their current companies than in 2008, either by stepping down into another C-Level role or as a Board Member, or taking another leadership position at a subsidiary or different operating unit, suggesting the company wants to retain the institutional knowledge and vision of the previous leader.

Of the CEOs who have departed in 2018, 317 retired and 114 found new positions with other companies. A large number of the departing CEOs — 313 — stepped down to other positions in their companies, either as board members or another C-level executive.

The government/nonprofit sector has experienced 225 CEO changes so far this year, of which 21 occurred in October. The total represents a 42% year-over-year increase.

In the computer industry, 124 CEOs have left their positions, including 15 in the month of October. For the first 10 months of the year, CEO departures in the industry are up 51% compared to the same period last year.

According to Challenger, three CEOs were terminated from their positions in October, bringing the year-to-date total to 19. Scandals have forced out another 16 in the first 10 months of the year, and six of those were accused of sexual improprieties.

California companies have seen the highest number of CEO changes this year with 124, 16 of which occurred in October. Companies in Texas saw 13 departures last month, while New York reported 14 and Pennsylvania reported nine CEO changes last month.