May CEO Exits Push 5-Month Total to 541

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In May 2018, 91 CEOs left their jobs, according to the latest report from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s a year-over-year increase of 13.8% and a month-over-month decrease of 16.5%. For the first five months of the year, 541 CEOs have left their jobs, 14.6% more than for the same period last year.

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.

CEO John Challenger noted:

Despite the drop in May, we’ve continued to see an overall rise in leadership changes at the highest level. Companies are adapting to a tight labor market and uncertainty due to proposed tariffs and potential new legislation. As consumers turn their attention to data privacy, tech firms are replacing leadership to meet those demands.

The government/nonprofit sector has experienced 109 CEO changes so far this year, of which 22 occurred in May. The total represents a 76% year-over-year increase.

In the computer industry, 69 CEOs have left their positions, including 11 in the month of May. For the first five months of the year, CEO departures are up 103% compared to the same period last year.

Of the CEOs who have departed in 2018, 166 retired and 69 resigned, while 47 found new positions with other companies. Most of the departing CEOs — 153 — stepped down to other positions in their companies, either as board members or another C-level executive.

California companies saw the highest number of CEO changes this year with 60, 11 of which occurred in May. Companies in Texas saw 10 departures last month, while Illinois reported six.