Fewest CEO Departures Since 2004

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While some high-profile CEOs have been replaced through the first 11 months of this year, the total number of departures is down 7.3% year over year to 1,050, compared with 1,149 last year. In the month of November alone, the number fell by 10.4% month over month to 94 compared with 105 in October.

The data were reported Wednesday morning by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The total number of departures for the year to date is the lowest since 2004, when just 607 CEOs left their jobs.

The number of November departures was highest in the financial sector (19), bringing the year-to-date total for the sector to 107. The sector with the most departures through the first 11 months of the year is government/nonprofit, where 173 CEOs have left.

Challenger Gray CEO John Challenger said:

Several factors could explain the low number of CEO changes this year. The uncertainty surrounding tax reform and health care may be keeping leaders in place until companies have more clarity. Meanwhile, the booming economy and high corporate profits are likely giving boards no reason to replace leadership. We may see a small uptick in CEO changes as the year comes to a close and companies determine priorities for next year. However, we’re more likely to see a large increase in CEO exits if and when companies get more clarity on upcoming legislation.

Hospitals have announced 102 total exits through November, while health care companies have announced 94.

Computer companies announced seven exits last month for a total of 89 for the year. This is down 25% from last year, when 120 CEO changes were announced through November.

By state, California continues to announce the highest number of CEO changes, with 129 for the year, eight of which occurred in November. Texas follows with 98 departures and New York tallied 64 CEO changes through November.

According to Challenger Gray, A majority of CEOs (328) have stepped down from their positions into either a board seat or another C-level position. A total of 33 CEOs announced plans to retire last month, bringing the yearly total to 288 exits for this reason. Another 160 CEOs resigned so far this year, and 73 found new positions in other companies.