US CEOs Still Leaving Their Jobs at a Near-Record Pace

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The number of U.S. CEOs who lost or left their jobs in September was the second-highest of the year so far and not far behind the August total that was the highest number on record. According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 148 CEOs left their jobs last month, just a few less than the 154 who left their jobs in August.

September’s total represents a year-over-year jump of 46.5% and a month-over-month decrease of 3.9%. For the first nine months of the year, 1,027 CEOs have left their jobs, 18.6% 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.

Vice President Andrew Challenger noted:

The last time we saw CEO turnover like this was during the lead up to and including the Recession. The difference in those years is that CEOs were leaving due to economic conditions during a period of high unemployment, which isn’t the case in 2018. Today, CEOs are leaving in the tightest labor market we’ve seen in decades. Their skill sets are increasingly in demand. We saw many long-time CEOs leave while their companies are performing well with plans to expand, ready to pass the torch to planned successors.

Of the CEOs who have departed in 2018, 287 retired and 100 found new positions with other companies. A large number of the departing CEOs — 275 — stepped down to other positions in their companies, either as board members or another C-level executive.

The government/nonprofit sector has experienced 204 CEO changes so far this year, of which 34 occurred in September. The total represents a 20% year-over-year increase.

In the computer industry, 109 CEOs have left their positions including 10 in the month of September. For the first nine months of the year, CEO departures are up 47% compared to the same period of last year.

In September, 16 CEOs were terminated and 11 left due to a scandal, five of which included allegations of sexual impropriety.