CEO Exits Up 58% in January

Of the 134 January departures, 44 resigned or were forced to resign

The U.S. economy's volatility appears to be spreading to the chief executive officer suite, where the number of departures reached an eight-month high of 134 in January,according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

January CEO turnover was 57.6% higher than the 85 changes recored in December and 17.5% higher than the 114 announced departures in Jan. 2007 Last month saw the largest number of departures since last May, when 144 CEOs left their positions.

Of the 134 January departures, 44 resigned or were forced to resign, including six CEOs who were ousted as their companies struggle with weak sales and restructuring costs in a worsening economy.

"As companies try to survive this economic slowdown and possible recession, CEOs are going to be under heightened scrutiny. Companies are turning to layoffs, plant closings, outsourcing and other cost-cutting measures to keep their companies in the black, but eventually, all eyes turn to the head of the company. A change in leadership is sometimes the best option," said John Challenger, CEO, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The tech sector, computer, telecommunications, e-commerce and electronics combined, saw the second most CEO departures with 18, according to the report.

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