Chief Executive Officer turnover surged 37%, from the 160 who left their posts in December to 219 to begin the year. Last month’s total is 27% higher than the previous monthly record of 172 in October 2019, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Last month’s total is 39.5% higher than the 157 CEOs who left their posts in the same month last year.

“January is typically a busy month for CEO turnover, as companies make leadership changes after assessing business conditions at the end of the fiscal year. January is the beginning of the fiscal year for many companies, and a good time to make decisions about the direction of the company,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Using SEC filings, news reports, and company announcements, Challenger tracks CEO changes each month from U.S.-based companies that have been in business for at least two years and employ a minimum of ten employees. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were roughly 1.3 million establishments that matched these criteria in 2016. While Challenger cannot track every CEO who leaves a company, the numbers have been steadily trending upward since August 2018.

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