The hot seat in the corner office seems to be cooling down. For the second month in a row, the number of CEO departures dropped by more than 10 percent in August, as forced ousters are growing fewer, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

A total of 48 chief executives left their jobs in August, down from 54 in July and 64 in June. The August figure was the second-lowest monthly turnover number since 46 CEOs departed in September 1999, said the firm, which has tracked the phenomenon for all but 10 months of the past five years.

“This may signal a lowering of the decibels coming from once-angry shareholders,” said John A. Challenger, the firm’s chief executive, noting that a wide majority of the departures were retirements or voluntary resignations. “It also may be an indication of greater oversight by directors in terms of selecting the right CEO to run the company.”

So after a period of well-publicized turmoil-highlighted by two consecutive months of 119 CEO departures in January and February 2001-one of the most tenuous jobs appears to be have become more secure, at least for now.