While turnover among the nation’s chief executive officers remained virtually unchanged in March, with 95 CEO departures compared to 94 the previous month, first-quarter departures were down 18 percent from the same period last year, according to the latest report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The March total was 22.8 percent lower than the same month a year ago, when CEO departures reached 123. So far this year, 299 CEO changes have been announced, the lowest quarterly total since the second quarter last year, and 18 percent lower than the 366 CEO departures announced through the first three months of 2014.

“We typically see the most announcements in the first and third quarters of the year, possibly due to when most companies designate their fiscal year-end. This slowdown in the first quarter may mean companies are in holding patterns with their current leadership and are enjoying growth,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

    • First quarter CEO changes were led by hospitals which saw 43 exits, 17 of which occurred in March. Financial firms followed with 38, while 37 government and non-profit CEOs announced their departures. Companies in the computer industry recorded 21 CEO changes so far this year.
    • New York and Texas have seen the highest number of CEO departures so far this year with 23 each, followed by California which recorded 22 CEO changes. Twenty-one CEOs have left Florida-based companies, while 14 left firms headquartered in Pennsylvania.
    • Resignation was the most oft-cited reason for departure with 77 CEOs using this explanation, 24 of whom offered this reason in March. Meanwhile, 73 chief executives have “stepped down” into other positions within the company, typically as Chairmen, board members, or other executive-level positions. Retirement follows as the next most-oft cited reason with 71 for the year; 32 found new positions in other companies, including 15 who were named CEO; and 20 saw their interim services end.

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