2015 May CEO Report: Turnover Tumbles As 90 Exit Seat; YTD Down 13 Percent

Turnover among the nation’s chief executive officers declined in May, as 90 CEOs announced their departures during the month. That was down 7.2 percent from 97 in April, according to the latest report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The May total was 8 percent lower than the same month a year ago, when CEO departures reached 98. So far this year, 486 CEO changes have been announced, 13 percent fewer than the 558 CEO departures announced through the first five months of 2014.

Non-profit and government entities saw the highest CEO turnover last month with 25, 7 of which were regional YMCAs whose long-time leaders retired. Another seven CEOs left various chambers of commerce. The year-to-date total for this sector is 71, making it the leading industry for CEO departures this year.

Computer firms and industrial goods manufacturers announced the second highest number of CEO departures in May with 8 each. Computer firms have now seen 40 CEO changes this year, ranking fourth behind government/non-profit (71), hospitals (59), and financial firms (56).

California leads all other states in terms of CEO departures, with 48 exits announced this year, including nine in May, the most of any state last month. Texas follows with 36, while New York has recorded 29 CEO departures.

The most oft-cited reason for CEO changes last month was retirement, cited in 28 departure announcements. Another 22 CEOs resigned during the month. Companies cited financial losses in two CEO changes, legal issues for another two, and boards ousted three CEOs in May.

Among the most notable CEO departures during the month occurred at Cisco Systems, whose long-time CEO John Chambers announced his retirement after 20 years of service.

Frontier Airlines’ embattled CEO David Siegel left amid financial losses and high customer and employee complaints. Al Jazeera America’s CEO Ehab El Shihabi left amid a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and anti-Semitic behavior. Lumber Liquidator’s Robert Lynch also left amid legal troubles as his firm is under investigation for high levels of formaldehyde in its Chinese-imported laminate flooring.