Chairman, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, speaks as the company makes its market debut on April 18, 2019
Chairman, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann, speaks as the company makes its market debut on April 18, 2019 AFP / Johannes EISELE

CEOs are departing their positions at a rate not seen since 2002, despite their pay skyrocketing overall amid economic, national, and global uncertainty.

Around 1,337 CEOs resigned from U.S. companies in 2021, and 668 resigned since Jan. 2022, according to Challenger Gray and Christmas, a global business and executive coaching firm. The firm also says that this is the highest number of CEO resignations since the firm began tracking them in 2002.

Some notable resignations that occurred more recently include Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, Compass Mining's Whitney Gibbs, Fred Smith of FedEx, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond's Mark Tritton. Over the past few years, notable resignations also include Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

"Economic conditions, rising inflation, and recession concerns are making boards rethink leadership and leaders rethink if they want to take on these challenges," said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, Inc.

Still, the exit of many CEOs also means that many need replacing. According to NBC News, ZipRecruiter found that the number of C-suite level job openings on its network climbed to 40,681 in Oct. 2021. Economic conditions are not the only explanation for this, however. Many CEOs make enough money to ride out these concerns.

According to Julia Pollak, a chief economist at ZipRecruiter, other factors include "burnout, the pandemic, the school closures, the need to take stock of life," and more.

"It's a whole wide range of shocks," she told NBC.

These are the same reasons that many people cite as a part of "The Great Resignation" and "The Great Reshuffling" phenomena, workers both leaving their jobs and switching industries for better working conditions.

Considering the responsibilities that come with being an executive, it is no surprise that many experiences increased burnout considering the state of global economics and politics. The pay simply may not be worth the burden and stress many CEOs face.

CEO of Jupiter Fund Management, Andrew Formica, recently left the $68 billion dollar firm to "sit at the beach and do nothing."

"I'm not thinking about anything else," he told Bloomberg in an interview.

Microsoft President and Vice Chairman Brad Smith speaks during a meeting hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden with private sector CEOs to discuss the Build Back Better agenda at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2022.
Microsoft President and Vice Chairman Brad Smith speaks during a meeting hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden with private sector CEOs to discuss the Build Back Better agenda at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 26, 2022. Reuters / KEVIN LAMARQUE
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