US-based firms announced 151 CEO changes in February, up 21% from January, up 42% year-over-year; 276 CEOs have left their posts year-to-date, up 41.5% from the same period a year ago: Challenger, Gray & Christmas

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March 10, 2022 (press release) –

CEO Exits Jump 42%; 151 CEOs Left Their Posts

In February, 151 CEOs left their posts, up 21% from the 125 CEO exits one month prior. It is the highest monthly total since January 2020, when 219 CEO exits were recorded, according to a report by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

February’s total is 42% higher than the 106 CEO exits recorded in the same month last year. So far this year, 276 CEOs have left their posts, a 41.5% increase over the 195 CEO exits through the first two months of 2021.

CEO Departures by Month Q1 for 2020, 2021, 2022. Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. © | Created in Piktochart

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

“As pandemic concerns subside somewhat with falling cases, leaders who have been in crisis-mode for the last two years may look for something new. As with many American workers, they may choose to retire or resign for other positions,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Thirty-three CEOs retired last month for a total of 65 so far this year, or 24% of all exits. That is compared to 60 CEOs who retired through this point last year, or 31% of all exits. Generally, retirements grew more than expected during the pandemic, according to a study published by the Kansas City Federal Reserve, which saw 3.6 million Americans retire, 2.5 times the expected 1.5 million.

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

Meanwhile, quits rates are hovering at or near record highs, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). The rate of quits dipped in January to 2.8%, down from a series high of 3% in November and 2.9% in December.

Women in the Top Spot
The rate of women taking over the CEO role stood at 25% so far in 2022, up from 21% of new CEOs who were women in the same period last year. Through February, 20.6% of the 276 CEOs who left their posts were women, compared to 15.9% of the 195 CEOs who left their posts in the same two months of 2021. In all of 2021, 19.6% of CEOs who left their posts were women.

Incoming CEOs by Gender. Jan & Feb 2021 and 2022. Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. © | Created in Piktochart

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

The Numbers by Industry
Government/Non-Profit entities led CEO turnover in February with 33, for a total of 56 so far this year. That is a 93% increase over the same period in 2021.

Technology companies saw 18 CEO exits in February. Hospitals and Entertainment/Leisure announced 14 CEOs each. Health Care/Products manufacturers and Financial firms each saw 11 CEO departures.

CEO Departures by Industry. January & February 2021 and 2022. Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. © | Created in Piktochart

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. ©

Industry Intelligence Editor's Note: This press release omits select charts and/or marketing language for editorial clarity. Click here to view the full report.

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