JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri officials want to continue having a private company handle calls about jobless benefits in the state even though the unemployment rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is asking companies to bid on a contract to run a call center that would help officials process unemployment claims.

A California company called Protiviti has been handling those duties since October 2020, and it has been paid $18 million.

The unemployment rate reached as high as 12.5% in April 2020.

Currently, it is down to 3.7%, which is equal to the rate in March 2020 before the pandemic began.