Rousseff still popular despite Brazil's economic slowdown

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's popularity is at its highest level since she took office a little over two years despite an economic slowdown, a poll released Tuesday showed.

The survey of 2,002 people conducted by the Ibope institute March 8-11 found that her standing rose to 79 percent from 78 percent in December while support for her government inched up to 63 percent from 62 percent.

"There is a clear sign of growth in the positive assessment of the Dilma Rousseff government," said Renata da Fonseca, a survey manager of the National Confederation of Industry, which commissioned the study.

Brazil's first female president took office in January 2011, with a 73 percent popularity rating.

The Brazilian economy posted anemic growth of just 0.9 percent last year, down from 2.7 percent in 2011 and a sizzling 7.5 percent in 2010.

Among factors explaining Rousseff's persistent good rating, da Fonseca cited a low jobless rate of around five percent, higher salaries and income despite the economic slowdown, social programs enjoying broad public support and the president's hands-on approach.

"There is a perception that the government is weathering the crisis without the people being very much affected," he noted.

Rousseff is thus doing as well as her highly popular predecessor and mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.