Turnover among the nation’s chief executive officers surged to a 24-month high in January as 131 CEOs announced their departures during the month, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
January departures were up 15 percent from 114 in December and 19 percent higher than the 110 CEO exits announced the same month a year ago. The January total was the highest since January 2014, when CEO departures also reached 131.
“A January surge in CEO exits is becoming more common. In three of the previous four years, January saw the most or second most departures among chief executives. Even for companies on a fiscal calendar, January marks a time for new strategies and fresh starts,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
January departures were led by CEOs in government and non-profit organizations, which saw 24 chief executives announce their exits. Computer and financial firms each counted 12 CEO changes, and companies in the Entertainment/Leisure industry 11 CEO changes for the month.
Meanwhile, energy companies announced 5 CEO changes last month, all of which noted the continued downturn in the oil and gas industry. Energy companies saw 41 CEO departures in 2015.
Resignation was the most oft-cited reason for departures, as 38 CEOs used this explanation, while an equal number of CEOs (34) either stepped down from the CEO role, usually as Chairman or other C-level executive, or retired from their roles. Another 9 CEOs found new positions in other companies.