CEO Turnover Surges in July; Relocation Rate Doubles from Year Ago

By Theresa Minton-Eversole Aug 23, 2013
The percentage of unemployed managers and executives relocating for new jobs in the first half of 2013 climbed to its highest level in four years, according to new data released August 21, 2013, by global outplacement and coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

The rising relocation rate is further evidence of an improving housing market and regional employment gains. On average, 14 percent of managers and executives moved for new jobs in the first two quarters of 2013—more than double the 6.7 percent who relocated for employment during the same period last year. The first-half average is the highest since the first two quarters of 2009, when an average of 16.3 percent of managers and executives pulled up stakes and moved for employment.

Turnover among the nation’s chief executive officers also surged to the highest level in more than three years as 128 announced their departures last month, according to Challenger’s July 2013 report on CEO turnover, released Aug. 7. The July total was up 36 percent from the 94 CEO exits recorded in June, according to that report.

July departures increased 54.2 percent from July 2012, when 83 CEO changes were recorded. It was the highest monthly total since February 2010, when 132 CEOs left their posts.

Challenger has tracked 729 CEO changes so far this year—5.3 percent more than the 692 recorded in the first seven months of 2012. It is the first time in 2013 that the year‐to‐date total exceeds the number of departures from the comparable period in 2012.

“Some companies saw their fiscal year come to an end on June 30,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger said in a media statement about the results. “So it is not unusual to see some volatility as organizations reassess leadership and make changes based on financial performance over the previous year.”

The relocation rate, which is based on a quarterly survey of managers and executives finding employment, tends to fluctuate significantly from quarter to quarter, noted Challenger. However, the four-quarter moving average, which evens out the volatility, also shows a rise in the percentage of job seekers moving for new positions. In the second quarter of 2013, the moving average increased to 13.4 percent from 11.1 percent in the first quarter. The latest reading was up 37 percent from a year ago, when the moving average stood at 9.8 percent.

“Relocation is rarely the most desirable option for job seekers,” Challenger said. “There is a lot of cost and risk involved. The recent collapse in the housing market made relocation even more unattractive, as many job seekers were stuck in homes with market values that had sunk well below what was owed. Now home buying and home values are finally starting to gain some upward momentum, which is making it easier to move.”

But even with improving housing market conditions in parts of the country, relocation will remain a last resort for the majority of job seekers, said Challenger.

“However, those who are at least open to the possibility can greatly expand the number of potential job opportunities by casting a much wider net. This, in turn, can result in a shorter employment transition. There are many parts of the country where unemployment has fallen below 5 percent. So if you have skills that are in demand in these areas, it is probably worth considering relocation.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest data, 29 metropolitan areas had unemployment rates of 5 percent or below in June, and another 35 metropolitan areas had unemployment rates of less than 6 percent.

“In areas with unemployment below 6 percent, it is likely that many employers are having a difficult time filling open positions with locally available talent,” Challenger said. “Moreover, many of the areas experiencing low unemployment also enjoy a lower cost of living. Job seekers should not assume that the industry driving the growth in these areas is the only one hiring. One strong industry can lift the other sectors in that area, including health care, education, business services and so on.”

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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