More Than 1,000 CEOs Have Left Their Jobs This Year

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The number of U.S. CEOs who lost or left their jobs in November was the third-highest of the year and not far behind the August total, which was the highest number on record. According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in the first 11 months of the year, 1,323 CEOs have left their jobs, the highest number since 2008 when 1,361 CEOs left their jobs.

A total of 147 CEOs left their jobs last month, two fewer than the 149 who left their jobs in October. The August total of 154 remains the year-to-date monthly high.

November’s total represents a year-over-year jump of nearly 24% for the year to date and a month-over-month increase of 56%.

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:

CEOs are leaving their posts at a pace we haven’t seen in a decade. While current economic conditions are quite different from 2008, the fluctuating markets, uncertainty with trade, and investor concerns may have companies putting leadership in place to head off a coming downturn. Meanwhile, a number of industries are undergoing serious disruptions due to shifting consumer behavior. Companies in Finance, Tech, Retail, and Manufacturing are finding that in order to respond fully to those shifts, changes need to be made at the top.

Of the CEOs who have departed to date in 2018, 358 retired and 129 found new positions with other companies. A large number of the departing CEOs — 337 — stepped down to other positions in their companies, either as board members or another C-level executive.

The government/nonprofit sector has experienced 258 CEO changes so far this year, of which 33 occurred in November. The total represents a 49% year-over-year increase.

In the computer industry, 138 CEOs have left their positions, including 14 in the month of November. For the first 11 months of the year, CEO departures in the industry are up 55% compared to the same period last year.

According to Challenger, two CEOs were terminated from their positions in November, bringing the year-to-date total to 21. Scandals have forced out another 10 in the first 11 months of the year, and eight were accused of sexual improprieties.

California companies have seen the highest number of CEO changes this year with 142, and 18 of those occurred in November. Companies in Texas saw 14 departures last month, while New York reported 12.

Year Public Private/other Total
2018* 241 1,082 1,323
2017 229 931 1,160
2016 230 1,018 1,248
2015 254 967 1,221
2014 278 1,064 1,342
2013 249 997 1,246
2012 266 948 1,214
2011 296 882 1,178
2010 278 956 1,234
2009 316 911 1,227
2008 483 1,001 1,484
2007** 245 39 284
*January-November
**July-December