May CEO Exits Hit 83 After Falling to Lowest Monthly Total Since November 2004 in April

Turnover in the top position accelerated in May, as employers at U.S.-based companies announced 83 chief executive officer changes, 73% higher than the 48 CEO changes announced in April, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Despite the increase over April, May’s total was 27% lower than the 114 CEO exits reported in May of last year. In total, 572 chief executives have left their roles so far this year, down 8.77% from the 627 CEOs who announced their departures in the first five months of 2019, which was the highest five-month total since Challenger began tracking in 2002. This May’s number is the fifth-highest five-month total.

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“CEO turnover plunged in April, but is already rebounding in May. CEOs are still mostly staying put as companies continue to battle the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and current recession,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“We may see that the recession causes another exodus of CEOs, like we saw in 2008 and 2009, if it continues into next year. However, if consumers and businesses begin to spend again, the recession could be brief and current leadership may be able to weather the storm,” he added.